Square Dancing

Square dancing is fun, a great workout, emphasizes social interaction and working with others, and improves memory – remember the calls!  It is also a great introductory dance, as you do not need any dancing “skills”.  Students can show up with various levels of knowledge, and the caller will guide you through each dance.B66D87AF-EFE6-4F80-84CE-2AB863A03F97

We have a knowledgable PE teacher at our school who can call.  He also has the records!  If you do not have any music to square dance to, I recommend “All Join Hands” by Cowan Creek Mountain Music School.  You can also find music on YouTube – just make sure that the songs are long enough.  Next, you will need to teach students the moves/dances.  Again, these can be found on YouTube or in various books and websites.  If you are not feeling comfortable teaching square dance, you can also hire somebody to teach.  We hired Paul Silveria, aka “Professor Banjo” to teach square dancing at our school.  It was great because students were intrigued by a guest instructor, he was very knowledgeable on the history of square dance, and he played live music.

We don’t worry about gender when we square dance – students can choose any partner they like. We also remind students to be respectful of each other’s feelings and bodies. No turning down a partner. Partners switch every song, so students have plenty of time to dance with other people.

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Encourage students to dress up to get into the spirit!

The following dances were taught to me by Paul Silveria.  I recommend them as good introductory dances.  Find them online to play for your class or call them yourself.  They are:

1. Large Circle Introduction

Make one large circle and stand beside your partner.  Demonstrate a do-si-do, allemande, swing, and promenade.  Calls:

Face your partner, do-si-do
Face your partner, allemande
Swing your partner
Promenade

Repeat the call several times, so that students have gone around the circle a few times.  It’s fun at the end to go really fast to see if the kids can keep up.

2. Virginia Reel 

This one is a lot of fun.  There are many types of Virginia Reels, but this one is nice and simple.  Make two long lines where partners are standing about six feet apart facing each other.  If you have a large group, you will want to make more lines.  Demonstrate “peeling the banana” (everyone faces toward the front and then follows the leader as they peel off down around the side, making an arch, and sashaying.  Calls:

Face your partner, do-si-do
Back to your partner with an allemande
Long lines face up the hall
Follow the leader
Make an arch we’ll all go through
Sashay down the line

Continue until everyone has had a turn being the lead couple.

3. Bird in the Cage I

This is a fun dance that gives students freedom to dance how they would like when they are called into the middle.  Review how to make a square and what number each couple in the square is.  The taller partner will be the “crow”.  The shorter partner will be the “bird”.  You will also need to introduce the grand right and left.

Swing your partner
Do-si-do your partner
Allemande your partner
Bird #1 into the middle
Dance!
Bird hop out and Crow hop in
Dance!                                                                                                                                                      Crow hop out
Face your partner shake right hands
Pull by for the right and left grand
Meet your partner and promenade home

Make sure that you give the “birds” and “crows” time to dance.  Continue until you have called all of couples to dance in the middle.

4. Bird in the Cage II

This is a large group version of the previous dance.  Make one large circle and stand beside your partner.  The taller partner will be the “crow”. The shorter partner will be the “bird”.  You will also need to introduce the grand right and left if you haven’t done so yet.

Swing your partner
Do-si-do your partner
Allemande your partner
All of the birds into the middle
Dance!
Birds hop out and all of the crows hop in
Dance!                                                                                                                                                   All of the crows come back to your partner                                                                                    Face your partner shake right hands
Pull by for the right and left grand
Meet your partner and promenade home

Make sure that you give the “birds” and “crows” time to dance. The big grand right and left can get a bit tricky.  Just encourage them to keep going until they get back to their partner

5. Cut Away 6

This dance is performed in a square.  Students who are being “cut through” should part so that the person can cut through them easily.  If you are going to call the fancier break figures, you will need to introduce allemande left your corner.

Partners 1:
Down the middle, cut away 6 (straight across, split that couple)
Go back home and swing
Down the middle, cut away 4 (go through the corner spaces)
Go back home and swing
Into the middle, cut away 2 (turn back to back, split the sides)
Everyone home and swing

“Break Figures” (To be done between each set of partners doing the main figure)

Simple:
Do-si-so
Allemand
Swing

Fancier:
Do-si-do your partner (right shoulders)
See-Saw your corner (left shoulders)
Allemande right your partner
Allemande left your corner
Swing your partner

Right and left grand:

Face your partner shake right hands
Pull by for the right and left grand
Meet your partner and promenade home

Continue until all partners have had the chance to cut through.

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