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Texas Whirlwind - Rickey Holden

Holden teaches the figures, starting with a review of Catch All Eight, a traditional figure from West Texas that became part of modern square dance: right hand turn halfway around, then left hand turn once and a half. Holden leads dancers through some introductory figures to practice just this piece. After a few minutes, he teaches the figures for…

New-Fangled Dance Craze Hits Hollywood Bars Hard

Sherman Sanders was an actor who played a square dance caller in Hollywood movies starting in the early 1940s. His credits include Bowery Buckaroos, The Devil And Daniel Webster, Lure Of The Wilderness, Ride 'Em Cowboy, Roseanna McCoy, Star Spangled Rhythm, A Stolen Life, and The Andy Griffith Show. Described in the article as "Hollywood's No. 1…

Cowboy Square Dances of West Texas

This booklet provides an introduction to West Texas square dances. After a detailed glossary, complete with diagrams, the author provides a sample of dances as they might be called. The patter is marked in italics to separate it from the crucial dance figures, and the author notes that he has attempted to include a wide variety of patter. Each…

A Tennessee Square Dance

Caller David Hendrix presents a overview of typical figures that he would use in a "square dance" in his region of East Tennessee.He notes that the dances in his region are related to the so-called Kentucky running set, although the style has changed over the years.

Appalachian Circle

A brief look at southern Appalachian circle dances. The author points out how unfamiliar four-couple squares would be to a dance from that region:---A native of the Appalachian Circle country which includes most of Southeastern United States, does indeed find the four couple set of the North and West and Southwest quite different from the home…

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.

Larry Edelman - roots of early modern square dance

At a 1992 workshop in Denmark, caller and dance historian Larry Edelman explains influences that created the early forms of modern square dance in the years after WW II. Callers drew on figures from both New England and southern Appalachian traditions, used them in new ways, and created new figures (in this dance, a cross trail), leading to a new…

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…

IOCA Barn Dance 1942

Events sponsored by the IOCA, the Intercollegiate Outing Club Association, provided the introduction to square dancing for many young dancers. Students from colleges and universities in the Northeast would go off on trips-- backpacking, rock climbing, hiking-- and evening activities were often built around square dances. The repertoire in this…

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…