How to square dancing

How To Square Dance? 5 Tips to Make You a Better Square Dancer

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What is Square Dance?

Square dance is a traditional dance that has been part of American social life for centuries. It is documented to have originated in England in the late 16th century. Although originating in England, square dance was also very popular in France and other European countries like Italy and Germany. When Europeans from these countries settled in other countries, they took the dance with them. It was then adopted in those cultures with some minor differences. It was through these settlers that square dance was introduced to North America.

Now square danceis most popular in Germany, the United States of America, Canada, and Australia. Each of these countries has a slight variation in the dance. Square dance has also been designated as the official state dance in 19 U.S. states and is demonstrated in many festivals and family gatherings.

The dance, as mentioned earlier, varies slightly in each of the different countries. The difference is not always significant, but it still exists. In most American forms of square dance, the dancers are prompted or cued through a sequence of steps (square dance choreography) by acaller and dance to the beat (and, in some traditions, the phrasing) of music. In some forms of traditional square dancing, the caller may be one of the dancers or musicians, but in a modern western square dance, the caller is on stage, giving full attention to directing the dancers.

How to Square Dance

Learning to square dance is an excellent way to get some exercise and learn a fun style of movement and socialize at the same time.  It may not be the easiest form of dancing, but it is very entertaining to both perform and spectate.

Square Dance Basics

Square dancing typically comprises four couples or eight people. Each couple is made to stand on a different side to form a square. Each dancer faces the center of the square and there is usually a male/female combination for each couple.

The female is usually placed on the left side of her male counterpart and is usually called his “corner”. Similarly, the man on the woman’s right is, in turn, her corner. The couples are then numbered to make sure that every couple follows a proper move. After the numbering, the couples move counterclockwise through the square. The dance only starts with the couple formation, but as the participants move through the dance, the partners are exchanged and original partners can mean nothing. The couple might start out together but during the dance, the man and woman both will get to dance with other people as the dance requires interchanging with the other couples. 






Dresses Blouses





Tips for the Beginner Square Dancer

  • Listen - Learn to be a good listener.
  • Know where you are in a formation - center, end, trailer or leader, always be mindful of the formation so you’ll know what part of the next call to execute.
  • Learn the definitions - learn the meaning of the calls.
  • Hand grips are preferred over arm grips - in set-ups where dancers are facing- thumbs and fingers together. Thumbs should not be linked like shaking hands.
  • Trust the caller - A call set -up may not feel right and you think you are in the wrong position just be patient the caller will guide you (3).

Square Dance “Calling”

In square dance, the caller calls out the instructions to the dancers. When the caller calls out, participants have to dance the steps that are being called. This makes every square dance different and exciting! Calls might also contain a modifier describing how many times the call is to be performed, such as “promenade ½”. (1). 

Basic Square Dance Steps


This dance step is when a hand from one dancer comes together with the hand of another dancer. This can happen between the original couple or during the interchange. When this grasp is broken, the handhold is over (2). 

Allemande Left

This is when corners face each other and hold left hands. While holding the hands, the couples walk around each other and return to their own original position. There is also an Allemande Right, which is the same movement in reverse (2).

Ladies Chain

This is a step that involves only the ladies partaking in the dance. When called out by the caller, all the ladies single out and walk toward each other and hold right hands. They pass through, drop hands, and give left hands to each other’s partners (2).


As the name suggests, this move is going to definitely test out your balancing game. Partners hold right hands, hop on their left foot, cross over the right, hop on the right foot, and then cross the left. This movement is like an upbeat jazz dance’s Grapevine step. This step is often repeated several times and is a very joyful move because of the tip tap sounds which is produced because of the hopping. Not to mention the fact that it looks lovely to those viewing it if done in proper synchronization (2). 


This is when a dancer joins together with that dancer who is facing directly opposite to them (2). 


In this move, two lines of dancers facing each other each of 6 to 8 people, customarily with females in one line, males in the other. This is why the dance usually requires six to eight couples to perform it together. There is no way a dance like this can be performed by a single person alone. Its beauty lies in the synchronization of several people dancing together (2).


Partners cross hands and walk counterclockwise back to their original positioning (2).

5 Tips to Make You a Better Square Dancer

  1. Keep both feet on the floor- Remember toe should slide on the floor first. When you walk your one foot is off the floor for a time and you can be off-balance easily. Use the shuffle step with both feet to glide along the floor to remain perfectly balanced.
  2. Keep you weight forward - Stay on your toes. Make your movements smooth to be a polished dancer.
  3. Stand tall and move lightly - Let the moving carry you along, don’t trudge.
  4. Take Smaller steps - Especially in men, make your steps smaller as it is easier to shuffle and maintain a balance that way. Don’t rush; the caller has to be ahead of you, so dance smoothly.
  5. Listen and dance to the music- The square is the framework for you to move. Take one gliding step on each downbeat of the music.


The square dance represents a celebration and is often seen at special occasions, family gatherings, or carnivals. Keeping the tradition alive and cherishing the heritage is the responsibility of the new, young generation. 

The dance is more than a predefined set of steps that is required to be followed rigorously. Square dance brings a sense of community and inclusiveness as it lets anyone and everyone take part and enjoy it. Dancing with random people can enhance your confidence in interacting with people and also enhances community connection.   So get out there and get dancing!



Square Dance - Information for dancers and beginners

Square Dance - Information for dancers and beginners

Be there or be square

Square Dance is a dance for four couples. At the start of each dance these four couples stand on the lines of an imaginary square facing each other forming the so called “square”. Hence the name: Square Dance. But of course this dance is not for eight persons only. Most of the time several squares are dancing at the same time but independently of each other. A caller cues the dancers through a sequence of steps to the beat of the music, all movements smoothly flowing into each other. While dancing the dancers constantly change their positions and their partners until, at the end of a sequence, they are (or should be) back where and with whom they have started. The order in which the specific dance movements, the calls, have to be danced is up to the caller, so the dancers don't know what the next call will be, making every dance a new challenge for each group of eight dancers. This is what makes Square Dance a dance full of fun and variety, that stimulates your concentrativeness and reactions. The fact that you are not only dancing with one partner, but with a new partner for each dance and with three other couples in a square makes it easy to get to know the other dancers. Best conditions for singles and those of you who like to dance but your partner doesn’t.


You never know what the next call will be.

Full of variety

Every dance is different.


Dancers have to know how to react to the call according to their positions in the square.


The dance movements are the same and called in English everywhere, so you can do Square Dance all over the world.

What is special about Square Dance?

It is astonishing how quickly eight persons, that may not have met before, become a group and enjoy dancing together. Maybe this is because you do not have to memorize a whole choreography and don’t have to remember what movement is next. The caller does that for you. The dancers just have to dance what they are told. A dance round (also called “a tip”) consists of two parts, that is two dances. In the first dance the caller speaks the calls rhythmically to the sound of instrumental music. This part usually contains more challenging figures to be practiced. The choreography often seems unstructured, what makes it challenging for the dancers. This is followed by the singing call. The caller sings the instructions as part of the lyrics of a song and the dancers have to listen closely to discriminate one from the other. Apropos music. If you think Square Dance is all about Hilly Billy Country Music, think again. You can do Square Dance to a wide range of music: Rock, Pop, Punk, Chansons, and of course Country Music. The calls are all in English and the same everywhere. So it is easy to travel and visit Square Dance Clubs and Special Events all over the world.

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Dancer wearing Square Dance attire attending a big event

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Dancer wearing workaday clothes

Learning Square Dance

To learn Square Dance you don´t need special knowledge beforehand, but it helps if you are a good walker and can pay attention while walking. The individual moves are taught in a course that will be held by a Square Dance Club. Before a class starts the clubs often offer an “open house” where you can give Square Dance a try and learn the very first moves. Due to the fact that you will have an other partner for every tip, you don´t have to bring a partner to learn Square Dance. The course, where you will be taught about 70 dance figures, will take approximately 30 to 35 lessons. As mentioned before, Square Dance is international and all calls are in English. But don't worry, the explanations will be given in the local language of your country. A basic knowledge of the English language is advantageous, and makes it easier to understand the meaning of the calls, but is not necessarily needed.

After graduating from the Square Dance Class you might want to join a club to practice your Square Dancing skills on a regular basis. And of course you can also visit other clubs or even take part in Square Dance events.

Find a Square Dance Club

Examples for Square Dance Calls

What is so interesting about Square Dance is the variety of calls, with each call defining the exact way the dancers have to take within the square. Depending on your position in the square this way may differ a lot and the move thus feels different. If all dancers move according to the definitions the concatenation of several calls result in ever new formations. It is the callers task to arrange the calls and create new sequences so that the dance is always challenging and fun for the dancers.

Here you see the starting position of the eight dancers at the beginning of each dance.

All four couples stand on the lines of an imaginary square. There is an exact definition for each call and by following the cues of the caller the dancers move within the square and find themselves in different formations, e.g. columns, lines, circles.

One of the easiest calls is Pass Thru. Starting from a position where the dancers face each other, the dancers just step forward, passing the opposite dancer on the left.



The call Run is a good example how a dancer has to move in a different way according to his current position and line of sight. Here the directed (active) dancers, e.g. only the ladies, move forward in a semicircle around the person next to them to end in the latter's position. The adjacent (inactive) dancers adjust by stepping to the side into the vacated position from the active dancer without changing facing direction.

Before: After:

Depicted you see that the dancers at the end of the line (red / blue) move in a semicircle. In the above line the red dancer moves clockwise whereas the blue dancer moves anti-clockwise in a semicircle, while the dancers in the middle of the line step aside to the left (green) or right (yellow) respectively. In the next line you see that now not only the position within the line has changed for each dancer, but also for the red and the blue dancer the facing direction changed. Hence you end in a different formation as you started from.

You don't have to know the rules by heart, but you need to know how to execute the move depending on your position in the square or line or whatever formation you are in at that moment. This is why one and the same call can mean something completely different to a dancer in the square. Beginners often struggle with this, but it is actually what makes Square Dance so fascinating.

Square Dance Attire

The traditional Square Dance outfit evolved as Square Dance became very popular in the USA in the 1950's and 60's. Therefore the fashion from this times still dominates the Square Dance attire. Every Square Dance club has its own rules about whether the dancers should dress up or can come in casual clothes. At evening dances and special events, you definitly should dress in the traditional Square Dance attire. But at all times, dress neatly. Never dress down for a dance.

The traditional dress code for men is long trousers, long sleeve shirts with collar tips and a neckerchief or a bolo tie. While for the ladies a circular skirt, a petticoat and pettipants or a long western skirt with a blouse in matching colors is appropriate.

Poems about a square dance | Poems

Quadrille. Lyudmila Kulikova

There are many different styles in the dance,
There is a “crossing”, “interception”.
But "Acquaintance" is in the quadrille
Or "Girls like hot cakes."

According to the drawing, two steps
Or two steps from the heel.
Don't be lazy, clap your hands,
Walk well and lightly.

How much life is in this dance,
Importance is not to be taken.
All partners are dressed up,
To dance a square dance.

The poet's emotions
Head spinning.
And he left, by the way,
Write words in verse.


Quadrille. Olga Altovskaya

From glances, from balusters -
Parsing into pairs, dancing.
Enthusiastic, striker and rechist
The harmonist turns on the motive,
The breeze blows over the heads.
And now they have already started from the corners:
"Acquaintance" is coming in pairs -
Towards and towards the turn.
“Mine is the best! Trump ace.
Striped waistcoat and cap.
"Mine - in Chinese with a belt,
In boots with a narrow toe.
Nose up, handle flying away -
Like a maiden lady walking.
And I go to meet her.”
Changing pairs. Have fun!
In the center, "asterisk", in the corners...
Teasingly, hems flicker.
Gleaming boots, boots…
Stitching, tunneling, steps -
Why not a bar-gentlemen?
Sloboda is dancing a quadrille!


Russian quadrille. Ural Gems

There are
slow and fast dances in the world.
Everything as it is, do not count
neither in mind nor in numbers...

Dance, as the face of the people
disposition and temperament,
what its nature is,
few people know.

Tango - sensual and gentle,
twist, like a mill in the field...
Polka - the sound of a coastal wave
spreads over the sea.

waltz - majestic and smooth,
chardash - fire dance,
only Russian dance - the main one!
Perky, fighting dance!

From heel to toe,
and then back!
Immediately - "shot", then jump! nine0005 This dance is noble.

The most Russian dance,
hands - the wings of a bird!
Lighting up, beckoning us
to start dancing too!

Russian darling is spacious,
he eclipsed everyone with himself,
lively, joyfully, provocatively
dance - Russian square dance!


Russian quadrille. Elena Zhukova-Zhelenina

I dance in winter and summer.
How, square dance, you are good!
Unfolds like an accordion in it
My Russian soul!
The legs began to dance on their own. nine0005 Very groovy dance.
Meet you in a quadrille.
Dance, my friend, with me!

We are advancing. Retreat.
Step two and turn.
Instantly my live quadrille
Will take us into circulation.

Don't burn me with your eyes!
I'm serious now.
I speak very importantly.
Dim the glow of your eyes!

Ah! My girlfriend, Irka,
Don't look so tenderly!
I bewitched him.
With him, everything is ahead of us.

Two stomps and a whirl.
The dance burns like a fire in the chest. nine0005 This is a marvelous movement.
Now I'm ahead.

Shake hands here.
Seriously, it's important to step back.
Then there are four of us in a quadrille,
Then again we are sailing together.

Look, my girlfriend,
Guys are coming towards us.
You and I are retreating.
Don't be afraid! I'm here!

After all, the quadrille is with us.
Mom, my grandmother
They also danced,
As I am with you now.

I became friends with music!
Famously waving a skirt,
I'll spin and akimbo.
I feel - burning with fire!

Don't oversleep! Changing couples!
We are advancing with a wall.
The dance is cute and sly.
Hurry up and dance with me!

Don't look at your girlfriend like that!
Make me dance.
I want to be the best for you.
Coming! Back off!

You are laughing. I'm serious.
And the square dance leads me.
Two stomps, three slams.
Here we need a turn.

Happiness is expensive
Walk like this in a dance. nine0005 Coming! Retreat!
I can dance until the morning!

I'll knock loudly with my heels.
Windy, funny dance.
Now we're sailing aside with you,
Now it's different with me.

There is no better quadrille for us.
Another step and turn.
In a moment my dear square dance
It will hit the liver!

I will smile slyly at you.
Here I go towards.
What a dance! Here's the fun!
I will scroll and move away.

And my girlfriend, Irka,
Don't look like that! Don't pamper! nine0005 I've already chosen a boy.
I expect a kiss from him.

There is no more beautiful quadrille!
Russian dance, mischievous!
Mothers, grandmothers loved.
We love you.

Trans-Baikal quadrille, reviews of the performance, performance Zabaikalsky Drama Theater - Afisha-Theaters


© Photo: G. Filippovich / Zabaikalsky Drama Theater


About the play

A merry and touching village story. They live in a big house, in two halves, married couples - Sanya with Valya and Kolya with Lida. The men met early in the morning, and they drank well, since there was a good reason - they met a neighbor. The punishment is unpredictable: the wives decided to change their husbands! The men, dumbfounded by the woman's anger, did not even have time to utter a word, as they ended up in the neighboring halves of the house. And then the action develops rapidly - every random word or gesture leads to completely unthinkable situations. Lots of laughter, positive emotions and great mood are guaranteed! nine0003

Information provided by the organizer of


Duration 2 hours 20 minutes, 1 Anthract



Nikolay Berezin

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