Many of us grew up with country music. Country music has always been (and still is) a big part of America’s National Dance, Square Dance. Historically Square Dancing has always been a part of country music, that is, up until the early seventies. At this same time country music was experimenting with new styles (i.e.: Rock-a-Billy) and experiencing a slump in popularity. Square Dancing at this time was at its peak popularity with national conventions drawing as many as 50,000 dancers from all parts of the country (and the world).
Square dancing has a long history in America having roots reaching back to our colonial days. The activity has come a long way and is no longer a dance for country bumpkins, in fact, it takes a more than fair amount of mental skill to master the average 128 "calls" or commands. Over 30 of our states have adopted the square dance as their official state folk dance.
At the turn of the last century the art was almost lost, only surviving in Appalachia and New England. It was
rediscovered by Henry Ford who became interested in the revival of Square Dancing as a part of his early New England restoration project. His efforts captured the interest of other individuals who then modernized the activity so that it would appeal to contemporary America while retaining its basic flavor. America’s National Dance is once again in need of a facelift and booster shot. One of the big problems seems to be the “Minnie Pearl” image, although greatly loved, it belongs to history. Younger dancers have mixed feelings about this but the trend
is slowly turning towards current western fashions. Although our music choices are mixed genre, Country Music is still in the driver’s seat.
Hopefully through a coordinated effort of our dancers, callers, and the Country Music Association it can again enjoy a new surge of popularity.
Up until the ‘70’s Square Dancing has been included as a part of most country music festivals across America. Somewhere in the turmoil of change, what was once a merged heritage found two separate paths. Is it possible that the Country Music Association might help us to once again
give America the gift of a renewed interest in it’s national dance and merge the two paths into one? Perhaps something as simple as using local square dancers as part of the intermission, intro, or side entertainment at Country Music concerts could be a tremendous boost on both sides. Dancers perform for free. Callers have a National group called Caller Lab (http://callerlab.org/). They can help locate talented dancers and callers in the states and cities where performances are planned.
Please consider keeping this great American treasure vibrant.
The Square Dance Community of America
OPEN LETTER TO THE COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION
AND COUNTRY ARTISTS OF AMERICA