Basics, Movements and Calls
A Square Dance set is made up of four couples who stand on the sides of an imaginary 10 foot square.
The Lady stands on her partner's right.
The First Couple have their backs to the caller.
The Second Couple are on their right, the Third opposite, and the Fourth on their left.
First and Third Couples are called "head couples"; the Second and Fourth are "side couples."
The Gent's "corner" or "corner lady" is the lady on his left. The Lady's "corner" or "corner gent" is the man on her right.
A Set is also a group of 3 "changes" in a square dance. This is made up of first change, second change and third change or "breakdown." Each change, has a group of figures, such as "allemande left" or "do-si-do," performed by the dancers.
A traditional evening dance format has been
'two couple dances followed by three squares' and repeated to fill the evening.
A different caller calls each dance. The first square is usually a visiting pattern danced to a jig, the second is usually a singing call, and the third is a breakdown danced to a reel.
Any of the standard tunes, such as "Little Brown Jug", "Turkey in the Straw", or the famous reels and jigs, played in 2/4 or 6/8 time will do. Ideally you would have an old-time fiddler with one or two accompaniment of a piano, guitar, banjo, accordion, drums, bass etc. that would round out the sound.
Every caller has their own way of calling a dance and some add rhyming to add colour or "patter", so the dancers challenge is to listen for the directions within the patter. Watch others in the set. If you get mixed up, stay in place and wait for the next part of the call.
TRADITIONAL PRIMARY MOVEMENTS:
are movements that we are preserving
2 or 4 ladies (or gents) chain
allemande left or right
circle left or right
chasse, half chasse
divide the couple
do si do (left shoulders for corners, right shoulder with partner and opposite)
forward and back
grand chain, grand right and left (reverse)
half promenade, star promenade
hold your holts (don't let go of the hands you are holding)
pass through, double pass through
promenade (varsouvianna position - gents arm over ladies shoulder)
right and left through (and back)
star by the left or right
SECONDARY MOVEMENTS: are those which are not considered traditional but have gained acceptance through years of use.
box the gnat
grand square, (reverse)
ladies chain 3/4
weave the ring
SQUARE DANCES CONSIDERED TRADITIONAL:
- All dances using the traditional primary
and secondary movements and danced to jigs, reels, hornpipes and breakdowns.
- SINGING CALLS that were in common use