American Folk Dance of Missouri
Adoption of the American Folk Dance of Missouri
House Bill No. 84, sponsored by Jerry E. McBride and cosponsored by Mary C. Kasten, to adopt the square dance as the American Folk Dance of the State of Missouri was prefiled in December 1994. By the middle of May 1995, the bill had been approved by both the House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate and on May 18, it was forwarded to the Governor for his signature.
On May 31, 1995 the legislation was signed by Governor Mel Carnahan and the square dance became the official American folk dance of Missouri.
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 Missouri
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).
Missouri Revised Statutes
The following information is excerpted from the Missouri Revised Statutes, Title II, Chapter 10, Section 10.120.
TITLE II. SOVEREIGNTY, JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS.
State folk dance.
10.120. 1. As used in this section, the term "square dance" means an American folk dance which is called, cued or prompted to the dancers and includes square, rounds, clogging, contra, line and heritage dances.
2. The dance commonly known and referred to as the "Square Dance" is selected for and shall be known as the "American Folk Dance of the State of Missouri".
(L. 1995 H.B. 84 & 98)
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
National Folk Dance Effort Moves Forward: We're On Our Way Now, So Let's Make a Lot of Noise!: United Square Dancers of America National Folk Dance Committee.
The Square Dance Legislation Collection: American Folklife Center 1984/024, Compiled by Michelle Forner, Library of Congress, Washington DC, December 1994
Source: Missouri General Assembly, (http://www.moga.state.mo.us/), February 25, 2005
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