Show Menu

Round Dance history - the early years

Link to Website:

Round dance history

Dublin Core


Round Dance history - the early years


Round dancing refers to choreographed couple dances, prompted by a cuer and found as part of most regular programs of modern square dancing, interspersed with the patter and singing squares. This short history of round dancing was created by Jim Mayo; the link above takes you to the website of the Square Dance Foundation of New England, from which Mayo's article can be downloaded. He draws extensively on published examples of round dances from square dance magazines in the 1950s.

Mayo comments, "The term round dancing was used by Lloyd Shaw to refer to couple dances as different from the "group" dancing of square or contra. I got curious a while back about the introduction of couple dances choreographed for use with specific music in the form that we know today as round dancing. That is not really what Shaw was describing in his round dance book.

"I have identified the start of what is called Modern Western Square Dancing (MWSD) as about 1950. The number of square dance clubs exploded at about that time and many, if not most of them, used recorded music. This made it possible to use recorded music for the rounds and that may have provided some of the motivation to start writing dance routines that were designed to fit a particular recording. Whatever the reason, it is clear that the design of rounds changed from the much shorter and more musically flexible  dances described by Lloyd Shaw in 1947 to the longer, more complicated routines designed to fit a particular recording that are included in Dr Roger Knapp’s Collection of Round Dances covering the period April 1951 to April 1953."

Knapp's book is available for download at the SDFNE website.



Square Dance Foundation of New England website

Date Created

September, 2013


Temporal Coverage

Website Item Type Metadata

Item Relations

This Item is related to Item: Black Hawk Waltz
Item: Ralph Piper - Teaching the Waltz, 1953 is related to This Item