Square Dance History Project
The rich story of North American square dance finally has a home in the digital age.

About the Square Dance History Project

Square dancing has been an integral part of American social life for centuries. Traditional square dance was vital for generations of Americans, especially in rural communities; in the post-World War II era, modern square dance similarly enjoyed participants numbering in the millions.

Despite its popularity, the history of square dance has not been well documented. Scores of books explain specific figures and calls, but there are few current sources that offer a detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. We hope this site helps to fill that need.

Moving Image

Clark Baker - traditional and modern

In this fifth and final video in this series, Clark Baker looks at two related kinds of dancing and explains the attraction of each: MWSD squares, especially in the Challenge program, on one side, and… View item
Moving Image

Clark Baker - MWSD & music

Many traditional square dancers look at videos of MWSD and see a lot of stop-and-go rather than continuous motion; this is often termed "puzzle solving set to music." Clark reminds the viewer that in… View item
Moving Image

Clark Baker - Calls and Concepts

In this third video in the series, Clark explains the difference between square dance "calls" and "concepts" and notes that "concepts are what make Advanced and especially… View item
Moving Image

Clark Baker - MWSD & Challenge

Clark describes the structure of modern western square dancing as it exists today, outlining the different programs or levels. He then talks about he got involved in MWSD Challenge dancing, explaining… View item
Moving Image

Clark Baker - Tech Squares

Clark describes the history of Tech Squares, the MWSD group based at MIT in Cambridge, MA. This club takes new dancers through the Mainstream in 8 weeks and on through Plus in 5 additional. A typical… View item
Moving Image

Tech Squares

This half-hour video looks closely at the Tech Squares modern square club at MIT. Under the leadershp of caller Ted Lizotte and with the assistance of a large group of dedicated assistants and dance… View item
Document

Hillbillies Win in New York (Billboard, 1944)

To read a copy of the full story, see Additional Files below.This 1944 news story, written in the usual flashy style ofBillboard magazine, documents a surge of interest in "hillbilly music" in New… View item
Sound

Birdie in the Cage (backup)

Items on the internet don't always live there forever. In case the website for the Radiolab show Birdie in the Cage doesn't remain, we've uploaded the transcription here. You'll find a link to the… View item
Website

Birdie in the Cage - Radiolab

RadioLab, a podcast and popular show on public radio, turned its attention to the world of square dance. This 45 minute program looks at a wide range of topics and includes interviews with Phil… View item
Website

Missouri Traditional Dance

This attractive and informative website explores Missouri music and dance traditions. It opens with an introduction to the subject, includes information on throwing a square dance, and is divided into… View item
Sound

Glenville, WV Square Dances called by Mack Samples

The dances (with instruction) are: Butterfly Whirl First Boy to the Right Grapevine Twist Take a Little Peek Texas Star_Take a Little PeekBob Dalsemer writes: "These recordings were made on May… View item
Document

Cape Breton Caller Interviews

Jørn Borggreen is author ofRight to the Helm, a detailed study of Cape Breton square sets as observed in 14 communities. The book, now in its 4th edition, provides documentation of the figures for… View item