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The Colorado State Folk Dance

Square Dance

Adoption of the Colorado State Folk Dance

Introduced by House Bill No. 1058, the square dance was adopted by the Colorado General Assembly as the official state folk dance of Colorado on March 16, 1992.

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 Colorado State Folk Dance

Square dance graphic

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 dance).

According to the Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration, Division of Information Technologies:

"Square dancing is the American folk dance which traces its ancestry to the English country dance and the French ballroom dance, and which is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, the Virginia Reel, and heritage dances."

Colorado Revised Statutes

The following information is excerpted from the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 24, Article 80, Part 9, Section 24-80-909.5.

    Source: L. 92: Entire section added, p. 1072,  2, effective March 16.
    Annotations

    Cross references: For the legislative declaration contained in the 1992 act
    enacting this section, see section 1 of chapter 158, Session Laws of Colorado 1992.

Additional Information

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: Colorado General Assembly, (http://www.leg.state.co.us/), February 9, 2005
Source: Colorado DPA's Division of Information Technologies, (http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/), February 9, 2005


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