If the last time you practiced square dancing was in third grade gym class, celebrate National Square Dance Month in September, and get in shape by swinging your partner and learning to do-si-do.
September marks National Square Dance Month. Square dancing hails from 17th century Europe, and the colonization of America brought square dancing to the New World. In fact, square dancing was known as the official dance of the original 13 colonies, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Traditionally, square dancing is accompanied by a banjo, accordion, fiddle or guitar. Henry Ford, the founder of the American assembly line, promoted square dancing as a form of exercise, as well as a tool to distract Americans from the rising popularity of jazz music, according to media reports.
What is Square Dancing?
Fred Astaire Dance Studios believes learning to square dance is a great form of exercise and a way to learn a fun new dance. The dance starts with four couples standing facing each other to form a square. Square dancing is unique because an emcee calls the dances for couples to perform to upbeat country tunes. There are approximately 68 different calls, including do-si-do, stir the bucket, promenade and swing.
Benefits of Square Dancing
Square dancing is a great mental exercise because it requires participants to have quick reaction times and pay close attention to the person calling the steps. The fast-pace of square dancing helps keep the body in shape and improve balance. Plus, the side to side movements of square dancing strengthens weight-bearing bones to prevent bone loss. In one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and found each person covered nearly five miles in a single evening, according to the National Ballroom and Entertainment Association. Square dancing is a partner dance and the companionship can help prevent depression, especially in the elderly.
Watch Square Dancers in Action
Check out these folks enjoying square dancing.
In this video from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, some of the callers help explain the history and value of square dancing.
Phil Jamison calls this classic square dance in Brasstown, North Carolina. Jamison is a nationally-known dance caller, old-time musician, and flatfoot dancer. He is also the official square dance caller at the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, New York, and has written numerous books on Appalachian dancing.
Adults aren’t the only ones who can enjoy square dancing. Take a look at these cute, costumed kindergarten kiddos square dancing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ0rGyNWXYA
One of our beloved Looney Tunes characters, Bugs Bunny, has stellar square dancing skills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9SrXRNPRCA
Ready to Swing Your Partner and Do-Si-Do?
If you are ready to put on a cowboy hat, grab some boots and give square dancing a try, contact your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios for more information about dance lessons in your area.