Types of Dance Explained!

Types of Dance Explained!
by Dave Brown

When you attend a Modern Square Dance, there are three types of dancing that is possibly offered depending on the club format. Please note that the Term “Square Dance” is often used, even when Round and Line dancing is offered. “Square Dancing” is often the main dance attraction at one of these events. Round Dancing is the number two event as a rule. Line Dancing is not as common overall in the activity across America (and the World) known as Modern Square Dancing.

Of course, if you think about it, Square Dancing requires four Male/Female couples, or eight people. Each couple completing one side of a square. Hence, 4 sides of a square. I’m not sure where Line Dancers, Western dancers and the public get the notion that Line and Western Dancing is Square Dancing. There is simply a lack of 4 sides to make a square in the two mentioned here.

Please don’t confuse “Folk Dancing” with “Modern Square Dancing”, which is a whole other format that often uses less than 50 Dance “Calls”, whereas Modern Square Dancing extends beyond that. Folk Dancers often declare their type of dancing as “Square Dance” but it does fall in line with the term that all of us know as American Folk Dance. Folk Dancing is often prompted, rather than Called as in Modern Square Dancing, as most routines are set choreography.

The difference between the Square Dance of old and Modern Square Dancing is simply the introduction of electronic amplifiers. The “Old” way of Square Dance was prompted, as there was no way for the prompter to yell the full time the dance was in progress. It invariably made the voice box sore and inoperable (hoarse).  As a result, the “Calls” or routines were more extended in time and calls were more of a “memorized by the dancers routine” lasting up to 64 beats or counts. Then the next call was “barked” or “prompted” over the band playing and noise of an excited crowd .

As a result of Electronic technology, the prompter is now known as a “Caller”. The caller can now make more noise that the crowd as a result of voice amplification. This means the dancers can how hear all of the words that the caller might call out, but now the callers voice can last most of the night without becoming hoarse. The end result, human nature as it is, the dancers want more. More of what? Since the dancers can now hear everything, the calls have become shorter in duration, and now there are more calls to challenge the dancer.

Modern Square Dancing, which breaks down to 2 types, with several levels within each, “Patter” and “Sing Calls”. The Person Directing a Square Dance is known as a “Caller”

The second most popular form of dancing found at a Modern Square Dance, is Round Dancing.

Round Dancing is performed by couples in a large circle consuming most of the hall traveling counter clockwise in that circle. The Person Directing a Round Dance is known as a “Cuer”, prompting the next pre-choreographed call to any number of popular songs or music.

Line Dancing. Performed by individuals in lines stacked to face the front of the hall. The Person Directing a Line Dance is known as a “Prompter”, prompting the next choreographed call to any number of popular songs or music. Often Line Dancing choreography is simple enough that only the first or second time through is enough to get the idea to continue being prompting.

What needs to be pointed out, is that there is a progression of participation with people involved with each other for personal satisfaction. from line dancing of individuals (1ea) to Pairs (2ea)  and then 8 (or 4 couples) performing together.


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