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Karl Byarski - Michigan fiddle and dance recordings

Paul Gifford is a researcher and musician with a particular focus on tradition Michigan fiddling. He writes:---I put up a large collection of home recordings of fiddling made by Karl Byarski, of Kinde, Michigan, mostly in the 1950s. Almost all relates to the Thumb of Michigan. It includes a fair amount recorded live at dances, including some…

Ralph Piper - Teaching the Waltz

This is a handout by caller Ralph Piper for use at a class during the American Squares week at Camp Ihduhapi, MN, in 1953. He provides a brief description of different styles of waltz, a short history of the dance form, then outlines in detail the steps in which the dance should be taught..

The Care and Feeding of Exhibition Sets

This article fromAmerican Squares outlines items to be taken into consideration when developing an exhibition square dance team:===Putting the “dance” in square dancing is the basic objective of good exhibition dancing. A set must enjoy their dancing while they are on the floor and show that they are enjoying it. This feeling will…

St. Patrick’s Day Square Dance - 1956

This home movie (silent) captures scenes of a St. Patrick’s Day square dance in Clarendon, Texas. in 1956. Numerous dances and couples are captured, as well as children taking the floor when the adults sit down for a break. There's a good shot of the caller (unidentified) at 5:54. Although it's difficult to identify whole sequences of figures,…

Waltz Quadrilles

This detailed booklet describes waltz quadrilles, a style of dance enjoyed by dancers in this Oklahoma City group. The author are careful to draw a distinction with traditional dances, and predict that this form (combining square and round dancing) will become popular:

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How many of us recall the old-time waltz quadrilles, the one that…

Sets in Order yearbooks

Bob Osgood published in 1954 a Five Year Book that printed every dance that had been published in Sets in Order in the first five years. In 1956 he issued the first Yearbook that included everything from 1954–1956. Thereafter for the next six years he published a book for every year through 1962. It's about then that MWSD stopped using…

Kentucky Square Dance

The author describes in general terms what he prefers to call the Kentucky Square Dance:"The Kentucky Square Dance (Sharp’s original “running set”) is a four couple square formation type dance characterized by a slow running shuffle step, a tempo which averages 150 beats per minute, and a rather definite order of introduction and…

Dixie Folk syllabus - 1951

This is the square dance portion of the syllabus from the Dixie Folk and Square Dance Institute held in Georgia in 1951. New Hampshire caller Ralph Page presented a selection of typical New England dances of the time, as well as a few of his own compositions. Georgia caller Fred Collette included a wider variety, including some Western figures, and…

Rural Leaders' Guide for Square and Group Dances, 1951

From the forward: "This circular is designed to assist rural leaders in teaching square and group dancing and in conducting organized recreational dancing activities." After several pages of introductory material, including selection of records and guidelines for teaching, the booklet begins with "Socializers for Square Dance Parties," a collection…

Yellow Rose of Texas - Dad Brundage

Dad Brundage was the father of Al and Bob Brundage, each of whom became well-known modern square dance callers. In his autobiography, This Is My Square Dancing Life, Bob Brundage writes, "Then when I left for college in 1941, also at the University of Maine, Dad started to call dances at home. Everyone thought that Al and I learned to call from Dad…

Suzy Q - Jim York (clip)

Taking the Grand Cuttyshaw figure from Rickey Holden and renaming it the Suzy Q, caller Jim York released an album and this figure to a wide audience in the early 1950s. The basic figure is the same as the Georgia Rang Tang from southern Appalachian square dancing: opposite person right hand turn, partner left hand turn, etc.

Catskill Mountains square dance - 1950s

Short clip showing teenagers dancing; the caller plays accordion, joined by a fiddler and a drummer. You can see the men turning the ladies under as they pass them on a grand right and left.

Chaney scrapbook & photo album

Duane and Shirley Chaney (Council Bluffs, Iowa) were enthusiastic square dancers in the early 1950s. They attended Square Dance Institutes with Les Gotcher at Kirkwood Lodge (Osage Beach, Missouri) in 1953, 1954, and 1955. Shirley collected photographs and documents from their square dance events and assembled a scrapbook and photo album, including…

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.

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…

Merry-Go-Round Square Dance - Les Gotcher

See comments on Choo Choo Square Dance for more information.

Choo Choo Square Dance - Les Gotcher

Les Gotcher is often remember today as the Hashmaster, known for his flamboyant outfits, his energetic calls, and his often challenging choreographic sequences. However, like other performers, he was trying to tap into all aspects of the square dance boom. This example comes from his "Square Dances for Young Folks" record, a conscious attempt to…

Double Tea-Cup Chain - Les Gotcher

This is Les Gotcher calling, recorded live at Kirkwood Lodge (Osage Beach, Missouri) at the second annual Les Gotcher Square Dance Institute. We hear Gotcher start with two regular squares doing a teacup chain, and then the Gents #1 in each star do a left hand star promenade to begin the process of moving the two squares into one double square.…

Notes on Timing - Ed Gilmore

This set of comments by Ed Gilmore on the subject of timing predates the Related items by some 30 years. Gilmore is dealing with fundamentals of square dancing in the early years of modern squares, so he is dealing with a much smaller universe of basic figures. Readers may also enjoy his suggestions to women for how to deal with overbearing male…

Ed Gilmore - live recording - 1958

This live recording of three dances called by Ed Gilmore comes from Don Ward's Podbean site.After a musical introduction, the recording starts with Ward's comments and then moves to the dances: 3:15 Hash 7:00 Quadrille with Grand Square, with extensive teaching 13:55 Singing square, "Whispering"The second dance is using the tune commonly…