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Paper Topic:

American square dance

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American Square Dance

At one time , the square dance was omnipresent in rural America but its golden age , if ever there was one , has passed . Today , it is noteworthy when a folklorist discovers a community with an unbroken tradition of square dancing , if only because it piques our interest as to why such practices endure in one place and not in another . Contemporary contexts for traditional square dance are , in fact , quite plentiful but they persevere as isolated phenomena , largely hidden from the consciousness

of the mainsream

The American square dance is the subject of a huge body of choreographic data , most of which was generated by dance educators and recreational specialists whose concerns lay apart from those of folklorists or ethnographers . Some of this descriptive material especially some works published before World War II , are collections of regional repertoires and even , in a few cases , of localized traditions . Much of the dynamism of square dancing comes from turning motions including rotations around a vertical axis and revolutions around the floor . In square dancing many rotations are energetic turns executed by two dancers together (not always opposite sex couples , but there are also more languid arcs circumscribed by enclosed circles of between three and eight dancers . In square dancing , women are often asked to make singular rotations or twirls , according to , on the one hand traditional embellishments or , on the other hand , set variations taught by the local polka instructors . Most of the time , square dancers only step forward or stand in place . In a few instances , walking backward is called for , and a dancer will occasionally have to take a sideways step to the right or left

To accomplish this dizzying variety of spins and turns requires the manipulation of other parts of the body . The entire trunk is usually kept aligned with the line of gravity (and for all couple dances in general . It should also be noted that in the square dance walk , the dancer 's center of gravity is moved slightly forward over the balls of the feet when compared to the ordinary walk . The kinesthetic sensation for the dancer is to feel as if his chest is leading the rest of his body

Arm movements in square dancing are important , but only in the context of reaching out to and grasping another dancer . The dancer reaches forward to join hands in one of three ways with another dancer , reaches to the side to hook elbows or put an arm around the waist of an adjacent dancer , or uses both hands or arms to grasp a dancer of the opposite sex in one of several stylized holds . These are known as the swing ' or ballroom , courtesy turn ' and promenade ' positions

Robert Bethke discusses square dancing in contemporary commercial or public settings in the Northeast , while offering very little movement data except to note the infrequency of square dances on the program in proportion to couple dances performed to popular or country music...

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