This page is a work in progress. It describes the Modern Western Square Dance (MWSD) style. For information about “Traditional” or “Old Time” style, visit our Traditional page.
A square dance is a dance for four couples arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, facing the middle of the square.
In Modern Western Square Dance lessons, the dancers learn a series of moves, starting with simple steps, such as “Circle Left” or “Forward and Back”. As dancers gain experience, they learn more moves until they have learned almost 70 moves. During an actual dance, the dancers will know the individual moves, but will not know in what order they will be called.
During a dance, the dancers are prompted through a sequence of steps by a caller. The caller leads the dancers through the sequence and returns them to their home position with their original partner before the music ends. A square dance “Tip” usually consists of a “Patter Call” where the caller uses only square dance commands and a “Singing Call” where the commands are combined with the words of a song.
The moves in Modern Western Square Dance have been standardized by Callerlab, the “International Association of Square Dance Callers”. Callerlab provides a recommended teaching order, which divides the moves into three groups by increasing level of complexity: Basic One (32 moves), Basic Two (16 moves) and Mainstream (19 moves). Most dancers will learn these 67 moves during their first year of lessons. Once dancers have mastered these moves, there are other levels of square dancing to try, known as Plus, Advanced and Challenge.