Square Dance Steps

Tamara Warta
square

Learning square dance steps is a great way to get some exercise and learn a fun style of movement at the same time. Read on to learn about square dance history, and how to learn some basic steps.

History of Square Dance Steps

Square dance steps originate from 17th century England, but were also popular all throughout Europe. It is possible the dance is a derivative of Scottish Country Dancing, but this is merely speculation on the part of dance historians.

Since then, it has been designated as the official state dance in 19 U.S. states, and continues to be very popular with older generations and at various festivals and fairs.

Square dance steps are based on formations designed by various choreographers, and a "caller" cues the next set of steps to the dancers in time to the music. There are many different styles of steps, and these include the more traditional English Country Dance, the Morris Dance, and the Quadrille.

Basic Steps

Square dancing always consists of four couples, each positioned on a different side to form a square. Each dancer starts facing center, and there must be a male/female combination for each couple. Of course, females and males can dance together, as long as the male and female roles are defined and decided upon ahead of time.

The female positioned to a man's left is known as his "corner," and the man on the woman's right is, in turn, her corner. The couples are then numbered and move counterclockwise through the square. Original partners often mean nothing, as some square dance steps require formations that call for interchangeable dance couples. You will often find during a dance that a woman will dance with a few of the men.

Below are some basic square dance steps:

Handhold

This is when a hand from one dancer comes together with the hand of another dancer. When this grasp is broken, the handhold is over.

Allemande Left

This is when corners face each other and hold left hands. They walk around each other and return to their own original position. There is also an Allemande Right, which is the same movement in reverse.

Ladies Chain

Ladies singled out by the caller walk toward each other and hold right hands. They pass through, drop hands, and give left hands to each other's partners.

Balance

Partners hold right hands, hop on their left foot, cross over the right, hop on the right foot, and then cross the left. This movement is similar to an upbeat jazz dance Grapevine step. There is often a repeat.

Opposite

This is when a dancer joins together with that dancer who is facing directly opposite of them.

Set

Two lines of dancers face each other, customarily with females in one line, males in the other. This usually requires six to eight couples.

Promenade

Partners cross hands and walk counterclockwise back to their original positioning.

Where to Square Dance

Square dancing is still a popular form of physical education taught in many public schools. From elementary school through high school, some children will receive exposure to square dance steps through their gym class.

If you didn't learn how to square dance in school, there are still plenty of ways to learn how. Some local dance halls will offer square dance classes at a low cost. There are also various dance associations such as the United Square Dancers of America (USDA). By going to their official website, you can learn more about square dance steps and the various classes and festivals offered across the nation.

Lastly, consider starting your own square dancing club. Social sites such as Myspace, Facebook, and Craigslist have made it easier than ever to start a new activity and network with others who may be interested in joining.

Learning square dance steps is an enjoyable way to get some exercise while learning a new craft. Even better, there is no age limit, making it the perfect activity for the young and old alike.

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Square Dance Steps