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What do the words square dance mean to you For most they bring on images of red barns full of men in cowboy hats and women in gingham dresses skipping along as a fiddler plays and the cows and horses look on These dances are often thought of as a thing of the 1930s or something we see in movies such as Oklahoma However the form we know of today has far outgrown that stigma Square dancing is popular across the world and is performed by all ages Square dance groups attend conferences clinics and competitions year round There are also many magazines and newsletters devoted to the people addicted to this danceThe square dance four couples in a set who are led by a caller through a variety of maneuvers and formations1 has gone through many changes over the past centuries Originally it is believed to have come from the longways or contra dance Performed as two parallel lines of dancers it was shortened later to form what is now known as square dancing The contra dance can be found in seventeenth century Spanish dances that consist of the crossing of two columns and early English country-dance two circles that return to their original lines These dances were passed down through the generations and were merely memorized but in 1650 the steps were written out However the body formations were not entirely explained so many past steps are not known The tradition of calling the dances did not come until laterDuring the eighteenth century religious groups rallied against dance calling it devilish Early Puritans however showed evidence of loving it One English author John Bunyon said all good people dance from the angels down 2 The acceptance of dancing varied from preacher to preacher and upon acceptance a dance master would announce to the town that dance classes would be held for the people for the next couple of days Dance masters
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