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American Folk Dance of the State of Mississippi

Square Dance

Adoption of the American Folk Dance of the State of Mississippi

The square dance was adopted as the American folk dance of Mississippi, Chapter 303 of the General Laws of Mississippi in 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 American Folk Dance of the State of Mississippi

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).

Mississippi Code

The following information is excerpted from the Mississippi Code, Title NO, Chapter NO, Section NO.

Sources: Laws,  1995, ch. 303,  1, eff from and after July 1, 1995.


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.

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

Mississippi Square and Round Dance Association: Web site lists Mississippi clubs, scheduled dances, links to other associations and pictures.


Source: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., (http://198.187.128.12/mississippi/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=fs-main.htm&2.0), February 25, 2005
Source: Mississippi Blue Book (2000-2004), (http://www.sos.state.ms.us/ed_pubs/BlueBook/), February 25, 2005


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