Adoption of American Folk Dance of the State of Arkansas
In the Regular Session of the 78th General Assembly, Senator Gibson introduced Senate Bill No. 7, a
bill to adopt the Square Dance as the official American Folk Dance of Arkansas. The text of this bill follows:
State of Arkansas
78th General Assembly: A Bill
Regular Session, 1991: SENATE BILL 7
By: Senator Gibson
For An Act to Be Entitled
AN ACT TO DESIGNATE THE SQUARE DANCE AS THE AMERICAN FOLK DANCE OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS.
WHEREAS, love of state and professions is enhanced by traditions that have become a part of our way of life and the customs of the American people; and
WHEREAS, we have distinctive and meaningful symbols of our ideals in our state's flag and in many cultural endeavors, but no official designation of a State Folk Dance; and
WHEREAS, the square dance, which was first associated with the American people and recorded in history since 1651, has consistently been the one dance traditionally recognized by the American people as a dignified and enjoyable expression of American folk dancing; and
WHEREAS, square dancing is a traditional form of family recreation which symbolizes a basic strength of this country, namely the unity of family; and
WHEREAS, square dancing is an activity for young and old, where senior citizens enjoy dance and fellowship and where disabled persons become skilled, happy and "handicapable" dancers; and
WHEREAS, square dancing is the American folk dance which is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers, and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, and heritage dances; and
WHEREAS, official recognition of the square dance will enhance the cultural stature of Arkansas both nationally and internationally; and
WHEREAS, national and international prestige is the best interest of all Americans; and
WHEREAS, it is fitting that the square dance be added to the array of symbols of our state character and pride,
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:
SECTION 1. The dance known as the square dance is hereby designated and adopted as the American Folk Dance of the State of Arkansas.
SECTION 2. All provisions of this Act of a general and permanent nature are amendatory to the Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated and the Arkansas Code Revision Commission shall incorporate the same in the Code.
SECTION 3. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.
SECTION 4. All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are hereby repealed.
Senate Bill No. 7 was approved by the Arkansas Legislature on February 7, 1991. The Square Dance
was adopted as the American Folk Dance of the State of Arkansas in 1991 by Act No. 93 of the 78th General
Modern western square dance clubs across the country have collaborated to have the Square Dance
declared the state folk dance in all fifty states. They have also been active in efforts to make the Square
Dance the national folk dance. There is some controversy over their efforts, which can be read about in the
"Additional Information" section below.
About the Official American Folk Dance of Alabama
The square dance is a popular type of folk dance in the United States. This dance for four
couples, or groups of four couples, is performed in a compact framework of a square, each couple forming a
side. Traditionally accompanied by a fiddle, accordion, banjo and guitar, the couples perform a variety of
movements prompted by the patter or singing calls (instruction) of a "caller". Cooperative movement is the
hallmark of well-executed square dancing.
Square dancing is to be distinguished from related dances called contra or longways dance where
couples stand double file in a line and from round dances where couples stand in a circle. The origin of the
square dance can be traced to English derivation and to the stately French cotillion performed in square
formation that was popular at the court of Louis the fifteenth later replace by the quadrille (another square
Arkansas Code Non annotated
The following information is excerpted from the Arkansas Code, Title 1, Chapter 4,
TITLE 1. General Provisions.
CHAPTER 4. State Symbols, Motto, Etc.
SECTION 1-4-120. State folk dance.
1-4-120. State folk dance.
The dance known as the square dance is hereby designated and adopted as the American Folk Dance of the State of Arkansas.
History. Acts 1991, No. 93, § 1.
A Brief History of Square and Round Dancing:
by Herb Egender.
Square Dancing: The Historical Geography of an American Folk Custom:
Richard M. MacKinnon, Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria, California.
English and French Influence on Square Dancing:
By Don Ward and John Brant.
Square Dance History in the U.S.:
from the Mid-Atlantic Challenge Organization.
History and Heritage of Modern American Square Dancing:
A summary of the essays by Dorothy Shaw, Bob Osgood and Kenny Reese.
The State Folk Dance
Conspiracy: Fabricating a National Folk Dance:
By Judy Mangin - Originally published in the Old-Time Herald , v.4(7)
p.9-12, Spring 1995.
The Square Dance Legislation Collection:
American Folklife Center 1984/024, Compiled by Michelle Forner, Library of Congress, Washington DC, December 1994
Source: The Arkensas General Assembly, (http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/), January 16, 2005