The Massachusetts State Folk Dance
Adoption of the Massachusetts State Folk Dance
Square dancing became the official folk dance of the commonwealth on April 8, 1990.
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 Massachusetts State Folk Dance
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).
General Laws of Massachusetts
The following information is excerpted from the General Laws of Massachusetts, Part 1, Title 1, Chapter 2, Section 32.
PART 1. ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNMENT.
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
The Square Dance Legislation Collection: American Folklife Center 1984/024, Compiled by Michelle Forner, Library of Congress, Washington DC, December 1994
Source: Massachusetts Secretary of State, (http://www.sec.state.ma.us/), February 24, 2005
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