It’s been years since I’ve seen or even thought about square dancing, although I do love to dance. So, I was very curious to see a local town’s square dance demonstation, fully aware that country dancing is very popular in France.
The first thing I noticed was that the dancers were all ages, not just middle-aged, making up about 8-10 foursomes. And, the caller sang all the group dance moves and was decidedly did not a French accent. As I listened to calls of “promenade,” “a la main left” and “dos-a-dos” I became even more curious about the history and “language” of square dancing – maybe it is French after all!
A square dance is a dance for four couples (eight dancers) arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, facing the middle of the square. Square dances were first documented in 17th century England but were also quite common in France and throughout Europe. They came to North America with the European settlers and have undergone considerable development there. In some countries and regions, through preservation and repetition, square dances have attained the status of a folk dance.
The Western American square dance may be the most widely known form worldwide except dances from China and India, possibly due to its association in the 20th century with the romanticized image of the American cowboy. Square dancing is, therefore, strongly associated with the United States of America. Nineteen US states have designated it as their official state dance.
Calls/Language: From Allemande German, originally from Latin allemanus, + Left NOT “a la main” (so much for that theory!)
Are there any other differences in the videos – French vs. American square dancing?