Dance Styles

Getting Started

The best way to decide if Square Dancing, Round Dancing, Contra Dancing, or Clogging, are something you want to do, is to try it out. Clubs usually provide some free lessons to beginners to see if they would like to get involved. Contacts for clubs in our area are provided on the right sidebar of this page.

Modern Square Dance

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Square dancing has a long history. Among the first records of dancing in groups of four couples are the quadrilles from France. In pioneer times in north America, local communities would often gather to dance in someone’s kitchen, or later in community buildings such as schools or churches. There was often no leader or caller, so the dancers would have to memorize the pattern of a particular dance.

The Modern Western Square Dance style developed when a group of callers formed the Callerlab organization with the intent of standardizing square dance moves at a time when there were a large number of regional variations. The moves are now organized into several different levels. You can read more about this style of dance on the Wikipedia website.

Basic Level
This group includes about fifty of the simplest moves. Typically, these would be taught in weekly lessons over a three month period.

Mainstream Level
This group includes an additional twenty moves and is level used for our club’s dances and those of most other local clubs. Typically, a new dancer would learn all of these after six month’s of lessons.

Plus Level
This level includes about twenty more moves for experienced dancers who wish an additional challenge. Two local clubs offer lessons and dances at this level.

Advanced & Challenge Levels
This level is for very experienced dancers who want even more challenge. One local club provides lessons and dances at this level.

Social Square Dance Program
This newer program is used by some clubs. It omits some of the moves in the Basic and Mainstream programs in order to shorten the time required to teach the program.

Traditional Square Dance
Traditional or “Old Time” square dances are still common in many regions of Canada. It is a useful style to use for a “barn dance” or for an introduction to square dancing, because new dancers can learn a handful of moves used in a particular dance then have fun dancing.

Round Dancing

Round Dancing is choreographed ballroom dancing. A round dance is often called between sets at local square dances.

Contra Dance

Contra Dance is a related dance style, where dancers dance in facing lines rather than in a square of four couples.

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