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Nebraska Dance Calls - series 3

Third in the series of square dance calls collected in Nebraska in the 1930s, with roots going back to the previous century.

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Nebraska Dance Calls - series 2

This is the second in a series of three booklets of square dance calls collected in Nebraska in the late 1930s. As with other booklets in the series, the authors provide background information about the different callers, most of whom learned to call from parents or grandparents going back to the 1800s.
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"Towns were few and far between in…

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Pioneer Dance Calls - Nebraska 1

This is the first in a series of three booklets of square dance calls collected in Nebraska in the late 1930s. (The larger series looks at Nebraska Folklore.) Each volume presents background information about callers, local customs and occasional anecdotes, along with descriptions of the dances. Many of the dances go back two or more generations,…

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Spinning Wheel - description and audio

This figure appears here in two formats. The written description comes from Betty Casey in Foot 'n' Fiddle managzine; Casey published several collections of square dance figures and decades later helped the young Green Grass Cloggers incorporate square dance figures into their clogging routines. The calling here is by Rickey Holden from his…

Quadrille #1 - Gene Gowing

Gene Gowing, here accompanied on piano by Willa Semple, prompts a quadrille to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw." Gowing was an associate of Ralph Page for many years, a co-producer of their Monadnock Folkways dance school, although in later years the two men had a falling-out.

Catch All Eight - Louise Winston

This is an interesting example of a modern square dance call turning up in the repertoire of a called deeply involved in the New England traditional square dance scene. Louise Winston was one of the few women callers in New England in the years immediately after World War II. A friend of Ralph Page and Rod Linnell, she started calling in 1945.…

Texas Square Dance Festival regions

Texas had a history of square dance contests going back to pre-World War II days. The dance festivals and contests continued into the late 1940s, evidenced by these articles from Foot 'n' Fiddle magazine in 1947. The Dallas festival visited by the author had some 5,000 visitors!

Alamo Style

This 1949 description of "Alamo style" balances comes from Rickey Holden, who coined the term to describe the figure. Holden points out that the action itself had been around for a while. Alamo style can be heard in one of the audio files in the Related Item.

Bob Sumrall

Bob Sumrall was the leader of the Abilene Set, a group that he started around 1938 (when he was 20); this group of Texas square dancers won the Texas square dance competitions year after year, and they popularized the "Abilene lift" style of footwork. This is an account from the Texas square dance journal Foot 'n' Fiddle.

Texas Squares at Pinewoods

In the late 1940s, the Country Dance and Song Society was best known for its work focused on English country dances and ritual dances. Starting in 1949 (see cover of the CDSS newsletter) and then at early Pinewoods camp sessions in 1951 and 1952, Texas squares were included in their programs, which featured caller Ray Smith. Here are some items…

Québécois square - "La Passe des dames, la Passe des hommes"

This is part of an evening dance sponsored by Les Danseurs et Musiciens de l'Ile Jésus, the old name for Laval, across the river from Montréal. The group was founded in 1978 and holds regular programs of Danses traditionnelles québécoises. The full video shows a series of dances through the evening. This clip…

Québécois square - Les p’tits chars à brasse-corps

This is part of an evening dance sponsored by Les Danseurs et Musiciens de l'Ile Jésus, the old name for Laval, across the river from Montréal. The group was founded in 1978 and holds regular programs of Danses traditionnelles québécoises. The full video shows a series of dances through the evening. This clip illustrates…

Square Dance - Dolores Heagy, 1986

Portion of a square dance called at Tod Whittemore's contra dance series at the VFW in Cambridge, MA. Tod introduced Dolores Heagy by saying how much he values having contra dancers become familiar with other related styles of dance. She was a caller from Pittsburgh, well known for her fast-paced squares.

Two singing squares - Tod Whittemore, 1986

Tod Whittemore provides the instructions and calls the figures at these two singing squares: Maple Sugar Gal and Smoke on the Water. Music is by Allan Block on fiddle and Peter Barnes on piano. Recorded by Ernie Spence in Francestown, NH, in 1986.

Windmill Lancers - Ralph Page

This recording of Ralph Page teaching the Windmill Lancers was recorded in 1972 at one of his weeklong camps. At the start, you hear Ralph providing some historical background on the Lancers before he starts teaching the figures. If you want to jump to the dance itself, it begins around 7:00. The music is "Alte Kameraden," played by the Heintz…

Windmill Lancers / Windmill Quadrille

Caller Don Armstrong provides the instruction and prompts the figures in this Retrospective Session from the 2000 Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend, held at the University of New Hampshire. The Windmill Lancers was part of Ralph Page's repertoire. The tunes are being played by Rodney Miller, fiddle, and Bob McQuillen, piano: J.B. Milne (reel) for the…

Plain Quadrille - 1890

Caller Ralph Sweet provides the instruction and prompts the figures in this Retrospective Session from the 2000 Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend, held at the University of New Hampshire. The tunes are played by Rodney Miller, fiddle, and Bob McQuillen, piano. The tunes are: First Change: Patience Quadrille Second Change: Come Haste to the Wedding…

"Community Swing" - 1945

This article in a recreation journal describes the growth of interest in square dancing in one Midwestern town in the mid-1940s. It's a portrait that was repeated in many communities across the US at that time.

The author describes the influence of Lloyd Shaw on the group and mentioned settings where many beginners gather to dance—"The…

"Square Dance in the 1950s Rural West: An Oral History"

Interviews with two older dancers in the author's family. One describes dancing in Garden Valley, Idaho, including stories of all-night dancing in the middle of the road in mid-winter, a literal "dance by the light of the moon" experience. The other subject, the author's father, describes his experiences as a dancer and caller in Modoc,…

Merry-Go-Round Square Dance - Les Gotcher

See comments on Choo Choo Square Dance for more information.