“Square dancing” arrived in America in the 17th and 18th centuries along with European settlers who danced “country dances” and “quadrilles” in which four couples dancing in intricate patterns. Despite having European roots, square dancing became intertwined with American folk and country music, and has a distinctly American form of art.
There are two basic kinds of square dancing: “traditional” and “Western.” In Traditional square dancing a caller leads the dancers through set moves that are associated with a particular dance. Callers have a “vocabulary” of about 25 moves, such as Promenade and Do-Si-Do. Dancers may walk through the dance first to learn it then repeat the pattern several times, dancing more fluidly with each pass. In Western dancing, a caller has much more latitude in crafting the dance. “Mainstream” Western dancers know 68 calls; “Plus” dancers know 31 more, for a total of 99. The caller improvises calls and crafts a dynamic, creative and enjoyably challenging dance.