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Items from "Historical squares": 40

Lancers, 5th figure - Wayside Inn, 1932

This home movie is one of eight reels filmed in the 1930s at the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, MA. (More information about these films is available here.) The Inn at the time was owned by Henry Ford. Ford had encountered dancing master Benjamin Lovett at the Inn and hired him to come to Michigan to teach dancing there to his employees. This is the earliest…

Les Quatre Berceaux - related documents

This item gathers together various documents related to the videotaped performance of the dance, Les Quatre Berceaux:• Instructions, as interpreted and explained by John Ramsay with assistance from Mark Rice• Chart constructed by Mark Rice to assist the group as they attempted to re-create the dance• Article sent by Dance Discovery…

Les Quatre Berceaux - cotillion for 6 couples

“Les Quatre Berceaux” (The Four Cradles) was presented by Dance Discovery at the Missouri History Museum in conjunction with an exhibit on Napoleon. The group reconstructed the dance from the printed French description published in Paris in 1801.Credits:Rebecca Taylor translated the archaic French into modern English.John Ramsay…

Sammy Spring's Quadrille - Don Armstrong

This dance, presented by Don Armstrong at the 1955 Minnesota State Square Dance Convention, comes from the calling of Sammy Spring. Don remarks in his introduction that the dance is similar to one of the figures of the Lancers, and he has this to say about the man from whom he learned the dance:

"We are privileged to have down in Florida one of…

Description of a Quadrille, 1870, West Virginia

Satirical description of a quadrille, from a West Virginia newspaper; no mention is made of a caller

Square Dancing in the 1800s

Fred Feild is a long-time caller and square dance enthusiast; now living in Tucson, he was instrumental in creating the Chicago Barn Dance Company in the mid-1970s. In recent years, he has started looking through historical sources for contemporary accounts of square dancing, and he posts his findings on a Word Press blog. Generous in sharing his…

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Frank Chavez Describes American Square Dances and Spanish Cuadrillas in New Mexico

From childhood, 70-year old fiddler Frank Chavez was exposed to New Mexico Spanish folk music, growing up west of Estancia in New Mexico. Frank was a guitar player and then in 1990, after meeting Ken Keppeler and Jeannie McLerie, picked up the fiddle as well. Since then, he’s learn many of the tunes from what he calls “The Golden…

Terpsichore In The Flat Creek Quarters, Pea Ridge

Pencil drawing showing a dance with African-American musicians and dancers with the following manuscript poem below: ‘Listen when I call de figgers! Watch de music es ye go! Chassay forrard! (Now look at ‘em! some too fas’ & some too slow!) Step but when I gibs de order; keep up eben wid de line; Whats got in dem lazy niggers?…

The History of Square-Dancing - S. Foster Damon

The History of Square Dancing, published by S. Foster Damon in 1957, is one of the few books that presents a broad picture of the subject. The book was a reprint of his 1952 article published in the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society.Dance caller and researcher Fred Feild summarizes Damon's main points about the development of squares…

Square Dance History Pageant, part 1 - 1976

The 25th annual National Square Dance Convention took place in 1976, the year of the United State Bicentennial Celebration. A historical pageant at the convention features a series of dances illustrating American social dance through time, with a particular focus on squares. This was an edited version of that presentation.

The Lancers - Ralph Page's historical notes

In the pages of his Northern Junket magazine, caller and dance historian Ralph Page enjoyed sharing articles based on his dance research. He included a six-part series on the Lancers. California caller and choreographer Chris Page (no relation) created a highly personal index to some of his favorite pieces from the magazine, including links to this…

Hoodoo Religion and American Dance Traditions: Rethinking the Ring Shout

Article by Katrina Hazzard-Donald looks at the relationship between African-American churches and traditional dance. As the article's summary puts it: "When one considers the history of American dance traditions one rarely thinks about its possible relationship to the local African American "Sanctified" or fundamentalist church described in works…

The Afro-American Transformation of European Set Dances and Dance Suites

Scholarly article that looks at the way that European set dances such as the quadrille became changed by African Americans. The article looks in detail at the quadrille tradition in the Caribbean islands as well as on the US mainland:"It is well acknowledged that the court dances which developed in Europe from the seventeenth century onward spread…

Haynes Family manuscript - Oregon

This manuscript of sixty-five dance tunes was handed down through several generations of the Haynes, Shuck, and Adams families who came West over the Oregon Trail from Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa and Missouri between 1847 and 1853. Many of the family members were musical, and over the years several people contributed tunes to the manuscript, from which…

Peter Beemer manuscript - Idaho

This is a collection of mid-19th century dance tunes from a remote Idaho location; as such, it is a useful record of the music being used for dances of the period. This website also contains background information on dancing in the mining community that is the source of the manuscript.

In 1862, gold was discovered on Warren Creek in the…

Uncle Steve's Quadrille (recording)

The first audo file contains instructions for the dance; it is followed by two music files with calls for the first and second figures.Detailed information about this dance, as published in Elizabeth Burchenal'sFolk-Dances from Old Homelands (1922) can be found here; information about the recording, Victor 35739, can be found here. Victor…

Uncle Steve's Quadrille (description)

This dance was published in Elizabeth Burchenal's Folk-Dances from Old Homelands (1922). This is the first dance iin the book, one of two American dances, along with Old Dan Tucker. (See the moving images of Burchenal leading Old Dan Tucker here.)Burchenal's dance description says it stems from Oxford County, Maine: "This is an old-time country…

Iowa dance program, 1864

Mid-19th century dance programs were comprised primarily of quadrilles and couple dances. Here is one such program from Des Moines, Iowa, 1864.

PROGRAMME.
Part First.
GRAND MARCH...............
1 ...New Years Quadrille.
2....Rochester Schottische.
3....Coquette Cotillion.
4....Serious Family Polka.
5....Lanciers.
6....Waltz…

The Birth of the Cotillion and the Quadrille, French Contredanses

This is a translation of Simonne Voyer's article, "La naissance du cotillon et du quadrille, contredanses françaises."The translation is by Susan Kevra, Senior Lecturer in French and American Studies, Vanderbilt University, as well as a caller of American contras and squares and English country dances.