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American Folk Dance of the State of Louisiana

Square Dance

Adoption of the American Folk Dance of the State of Louisiana

On April 1, 1999, House Concurrent Resolution No. 89 was read for the first time. This legislation, introduced by Representative Michael A. Walsworth, proposed that the square dance be designated as the "American Folk Dance of Louisiana". The legislation was approved by the Louisiana House of Representatives on April 23 and passed on to the Louisiana Senate for consideration. The Senate approved House Concurrent Resolution No. 89 on June 18. The approved text the legislation follows:

House Concurrent Resolution No. 89 was signed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives on June 20th, signed by the President of the Senate on June 21st and delivered to the Louisiana Secretary of state for filing on June 22, 1999.

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 American Folk Dance of the State of Louisiana

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).

Louisiana Revised Statutes

The square dance does not appear in the Louisiana Revised Statutes as it was adopted by Concurrent Resolution rather than an Act of the Legislature.

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: Louisiana State Legislature, (http://www.legis.state.la.us/), February 24, 2005


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