The question is sometimes asked – what is square dancing ? Well I suppose the technically correct answer would go something like: “Square dancing is a dance form where groups of 8 people working as a team perform routines as directed by a person known as a caller”.
But of course the technical definition doesn’t really do it justice. So let’s explore a bit more about what goes in to make up the entity called the “Square Dance Movement”.
To me, square dancing is many things:
Universal – No matter where you go in the world square dancing is the same. The movements have been standardized and are called in the same way, regardless of language. The dance programs used are all standardized and no matter where in the world you learn – you can still dance the same in other parts of the world. You may not be able to converse with some of the other dancers you meet – but you can interact with them.
Easy to learn – One of the first things we learn as children is how to walk. In next to no time you don’t have to think about how to do it – you just do it. You don’t worry about where your feet go – it’s automatic. With most dance forms you then have to learn to place your feet in specific arrangements – you have to learn to walk in a different way which is un-natural. Not so with square dancing. Square dancing is based upon walking in defined directions for defined distances. Which is exactly what walking is. And as walking is one of the most natural things we do – square dancing becomes so easy to learn.
Low stress physical exercise – We all know that exercise is good for you. But it all seems like hard work, isn’t there a form of exercise that is also fun and doesn’t seem like hard work ? Yes there is – it’s called square Dancing.
Entertaining – The caller is there to entertain you – to make dancers forget about the day to day worries of the world.
Music – Square dancing uses many different types of music, including country & western, rock, jazz, sing-a-longs, gospel.
Interactive – The dance pattern is directed by a caller. The sequences are generally made up “on the spot”. Dancers have to listen to the caller to find out what’s next. Callers also have to get a feel for the “mood of the dancers” and respond as required – know when to call something exciting and know when to call something more mellow. This two way interaction truly makes square dancing unique.
Fun – Ask any square dancer how much fun they have.
Friendship – Many people have made life-long friends at square dances. Many married couples first met at a square dance. And cultural background does not make a difference. In fact square breaks down many barriers between cultures.
Challenging or easy – Square dancing has a selection of programs available to match your time and commitment desires. If you wish to attend easy dances – there is a program for you. If you wish to delve further into challenging dance routines – there is also a program for you. And several programs exist between those two extremes.
Mentally stimulating – Square dancing can not only exercise the body – but also the mind.
Team based – You are working together in harmony with 7 other people.
Breaks down barriers – There are no cultural barriers. People from all parts of the world with all sorts of different ideologies meet on the dance floor. Square dancing helps to promote universal peace and co-operation throughout the world.