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The Connecticut State Folk Dance

Square Dance

Adoption of the Connecticut State Folk Dance

Do Se Do

Adoption of the square dance as the official state folk dance of Connecticut was drafted by the Connecticut House Joint Committee on Commerce in February 1995. House Bill No. 5154, co-sponsored by Michael Jarjura, Joan Hartley, Claire Sauer and Stephen Somma was introduced for the sole purpose of generating tourist revenue rather than being related to a particular folk art of Connecticut. The text of the bill follows:

              STATE OF CONNECTICUT

    Committee Bill No. 5154                          Page 1


    Referred to Committee on COMMERCE
                                                LCO No. 3006
    Introduced by (CE)
                                      General Assembly
                                      January Session, A.D., 1995

    AN ACT MAKING SQUARE DANCING THE OFFICIAL FOLK DANCE.

        Be it enacted  by  the Senate and House of Representatives in
    General Assembly convened:
        (NEW) The square dance shall be the state folk dance.


    STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  To  increase  state  revenue from tourism.
    This designation would  be  particularly  significant for tourism
    promotion in 1995,  as Waterbury will host the Northeast Regional
    Square Dance Convention for the second year in a row.

        [Proposed  deletions  are   enclosed  in  brackets.  Proposed
    additions are all  capitalized  or  underlined where appropriate,
    except that when  the  entire  text  of a bill or resolution or a
    section thereof is new, it is not capitalized or underlined.]


    Co-Sponsors:  REP. JARJURA, 74th DIST.; REP. HARTLEY, 73rd DIST.
                  REP. SAUER, 36th DIST.; SEN. SOMMA, 16th DIST.

Representative Jarjura (74th District) testified that this bill would be an economic boost to the city of Waterbury and the surrounding municipalities that would sell their goods and services to the people who would attend these square dancing conventions. Michael J. Jarjura left the Connecticut House and was elected as Mayor of the City of Waterbury in November 2001. He was reelected to a second term in 2003.

House Bill No. 5154, designating the square dance the official folk dance of Connecticut was approved by the House of Representatives on April 26, 1995 and by the Senate on May 18, 1995. Governor John G. Rowland signed the legislation on June 6, 1995.

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 Connecticut 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).

Connecticut General Statutes

The following information is excerpted from the Connecticut General Statutes, Title 3, Chapter 32, Section 3-110k.

    (P.A. 95-107.)

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: Connecticut General Statutes, (http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/Statutes.asp), February 10, 2005
Source: Connecticut General Assembly, (http://www.cga.ct.gov/), February 10, 2005
Source: City of Waterbury, (http://www.waterbury-ct.gov/), February 10, 2005


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