Modern Western square dance

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Modern Western square dance (also called Western square dance, contemporary Western square dance, modern American square dance or modern square dance) is one of two types of square dancing, along with traditional square dance. As a dance form, modern Western square dance grew out of traditional Western dance. The term "Western square dance", for some, is synonymous with "cowboy dance" or traditional Western square dance. Therefore this article uses the term "modern Western square dance" to describe the contemporary non-historical dance which grew out of the traditional dance.

Modern Western square dance, like traditional square dance, is directed by a square dance caller. In modern Western square dance the caller strings together a sequence of individual square dance calls to make a figure or sequence. These calls are the building blocks of the choreography that is danced by the individuals, square dancers, in the squares. There are eight people (four couples) in each square; at a dance there may be many squares. Generally speaking, each of these squares dances independently of each other, with the exception of specialty or "gimmick" dances, where there might be some crossover of dancers from one square to another.

The square functions as a "dance team" for the duration of a square dance tip, a group of dances usually separated from the next tip by a pause during which the dancers regroup into new squares. A square dance tip is usually composed of a combination of patter calls and singing calls, the two types of square dance calls.


Learning modern Western square dance

Dancers learn the individual square dance calls required to square dance at classes, which are usually taught by square dance callers, and are usually sponsored or organized by square dance clubs. In addition to sponsoring classes, clubs also sponsor special social and dance evenings, as well as larger dances, which are usually open to the general square dance community (i.e. non-club dancers).

The individual square dance calls are categorized as belonging to a particular dance program, or level of difficulty. Each dance program has a list of defined dance steps, which is associated with it. These lists of dance steps are managed, and universally recognized.

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