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Yee Haw! A Curious Stroll Down Square Dancing’s Memory Lane

A quirky and informative movie of how square dancing has been portrayed in historical, non-theatrical motion pictures aggregated from The Internet Archive. The collection illustrates some of the ways that square dancing has been portrayed in popular culture. Credits at the end of the collection show the source of each clip.


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..

African-American quadrille, 1914

SIlent movie footage from 1914 showing African-American dancers in square formation. A comment on a YouTube posting of the same clip says, "That band in the background was possibly Sid LeProtti's band from the Barbary Coast. This dance had open sections that look like what we call square dancing. The closed sections of the dance were often danced…

Monterey Polka Quadrille

The Monterey Polka Quadrilles by Charles Durang (1848) (Finale [Figure 5] - Colonel May)Reconstructed by Richard Powers (1983)Music by Fleeting Moments Waltz & Quickstep Orchestra (courtesy of Richard Powers)Performed by members of Polite Society, the performing troupe of the Vintage Dance Society. The dance celebrates a U.S. victory in the…

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…

Duck for the Oyster - origins

This discussion of Duck for the Oyster was an e-mail from the author, Tony Parkes, to the coordinator of the Square Dance History Project. A search on this site for "oyster" will bring back numerous references, including these.

Lee Kopman calls

This "Wordle" is an illustration of how frequently calls written by Lee Kopman appear in modern square dance calling. The size correlates with the frequency of the call's use, Readers interested in knowing more about Lee Kopman will enjoy listening to the interview conducted with him by Bob Brundage and posted on the website of the Square Dance…

Lee Kopman on Phil Donahue

Lee Kopman has created more calls used in contemporary square dance than any other individual, some 350 or more. In 1980, he appeared on the Phil Donahue Show and presented this program of square dancing, joined by dancers from New York, Chicago, Ohio and Wisconsin. Assisted at the mic by caller Dave Taylor, Kopman provides lucid responses to the…

Musical and Mathematical Design of Square Dance Singing Calls

These videos record a lengthy and detailed talk by caller Guy Steele. He's not addressing a square dance audience, so it's an interesting presentation of technical aspects of how a singing square dance call is composed. To illustrate how square dancing works, he enlists a group of eight dancers from MIT's Tech Squares club.

1976 Square Dance Historical Pageant

Cal Campbell provides this account of the production of the historical pageant at the 1976 National Square Dance Convention.

American Square Dancing - 1976 NSDC historical pageant

This is the program, prepared by Cal Campbell, that accompanied the square dance historical pageant at the 1976 National Square Dance Convention in Anaheim, CA. See the next item in the SDHP collection for a behind-the-scenes description of the planning behind this event.

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,…

Square Dance History display panels

The panels in this set trace the history of square dancing over some 500 years, going back to early origins in England and France. They were assembled by Dick Severance, an early president of the Square Dance Foundation of New England (SDFNE). For more than two decades Dick was an active custodian of the Foundation’s collection of historical…

Square Dance Callers’ Association of Northern California

This website offers a brief history of the SDCANC, including a list of past presidents, a selection of older photographs, and information about the founding of the group in 1949.

Prince Edward Island - quadrilles

Bowing Down Home is a detailed website devoted to the fiddle traditions of Prince Edward Island. The site includes videos, photographs, music files, and interviews (both as audio files and as transcriptions). Much of the website is devoted to fiddle music, of course, and there is also a lot of material on PEI step dancing. The site includes an…

Big Set - Berea Country Dancers, 2011

The Berea Country Dancers perform a version of the southern mountain Big Set. (Searching for that term will bring up several dozen additional Related Items.) Paul Adkins called the dance from the floor. As is the custom in this style, for "Partner swing" and "Corner swing" dancers do a two-hand turn just once around.This was was part of the weekly…

Square dance photos, Austin, TX, 1948

Two photographs taken at a square dance in Austin, TX

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Dance - Scotsville Fire Hall, Cape Breton

Documentation of a dance in Scotsville, a small community in Inverness County, in Cape Breton. You'll need to manually go back to the start of the video; for some reason, when this embeds it'sabout halfway through the video. The second half of the video is from a different venue, and includes music and step dancing.