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Square Dance Term Glossary

Vol. 3 - No. 7
Square Dance Term Glossary
Honor your partner
 
Square Dance


Knowing the growing demand for square dancing in every phase of social life, it is our intent to bring to the uninitiated this square dance term glossary, whereby all may gain insight and enjoy participating in this amazing form of group recreation.

Generally, most beginning square dances are preceded by simple "Talk-through - Walk-through" instructions. New dancers walk through the figures until they become familiar with them. After a bit of practice dancers simply follow the Calls. Studying and memorizing these common square dance terms will put you at a distinct advantage when first honors are called…


GLOSSARY OF SQUARE DANCE TERMS

ACTIVE COUPLES (Lady Walpole's Reel) - Couples One, Three, Five and Seven at the start of the dance. These Couples exchange positions with each other. They remain as Active Couples until they have danced with all the In-Active Couples in the Set and have reached the Foot of the Set. They cross back to own position and become Inactive after the next sequence of the Dance.

ALLEMANDE LEFT - Corners face and take left hands. Walk around each other to own position.

ALLEMANDE RIGHT - Partners face and take right hands. Walk around each other to own position.

BACK BY THE LEFT - Exchange right hands to left hands in a Right Hand Star and walk back to position.

BALANCE - Partners, or those designated by Caller, take right hands. Hop on the left foot and cross the right, hop on the right foot and cross the left. Repeat once.

CAST OFF (Lady Walpole's Reel) - Returning from Down the Center and Back Gent places his right arm around the Lady he has Balanced and Swung and they turn clockwise. Lady (Active) places her left arm around the Gent she has Balanced and Swung and they turn counter-clockwise. Both lines should now be facing the other again. Each Active person has moved one position to the Foot of the Set and each Inactive one position to the Head of the Set.

CHASSÉ - Slide step.

CIRCLE LEFT - Dancers designated by Caller join hands in a circle and walk to the left.

CIRCLE RIGHT - Same as Circle Left going to the right.

CORNER - Lady on Gent's left, Gent on Lady's right.

DOWN THE CENTER AND BACK (Lady Walpole's Reel) - Actives walk to the center of the lines and walk six steps to the Fool of the Set with Partners. On the call And Back Dancers turn individually and walk back to the Head of the Set on the same side they walked down.

DO-SI-DO - Partners, or those designated by Caller, face. Walk around each other passing right and then left shoulders back to own position.

FORWARD AND BACK - Three steps forward. Honor, and back to position.

FOOT - End of a line farthest away from Caller or record player.

HEAD - End of a line nearest the Caller or record player.

HONOR - Partners, or those designated by Caller, face- Ladies Curtsy, Gents Bow.

INACTIVE COUPLES (Lady Walpole's Reel) - Couples Two, Four, Six and Eight to start the Dance. They remain Inactive until they reach the Head of the Set and wait out one sequence of the Dance. During this sequence they cross over and exchange positions. On the next sequence they follow the calls for the Active Couples and remain Active until they reach the Foot of the Set when they again become Inactive. Cross back to their original positions.

LADIES CHAIN - Ladies designated by Caller walk to each other and take right hands. Pass by, dropping hands, and give left hands to that Lady's Partner in his left hand. Gents place their right arm around the Lady's waist and turns her counter-clockwise to face the other Couple. Ladies Chain back the same way.

LADIES GRAND CHAIN - The four Ladies walk to the center of the Set and join right hands in a Star formation. Walk around to the Opposite Gent, giving him their left hand in his. Gents place their right arm around the Lady's waist and turns her counter-clockwise to face the center of the Set. Ladies Grand Chain back the same way.

ONE BELOW - After crossing to Opposite position, exchanging positions with Partners in Lady Walpole's Reel Actives face to the Foot of the Set and are facing the ONE Below.

OPPOSITE - Dancer directly opposite (In Introduction, Chorus and Ending of the Honor Your Partner Dance Opposite refers to the Lady the Gents have at that moment for the Swing or Do-si-do). PARTNER - Lady on Gent's right. Gent on Lady's left.

PROMENADE - Partners, or those designated by Caller, cross hands in skating position and walk counter-clockwise to position. Right arm should be over left.

HALF PROMENADE (Lady Walpole's Reel) - Couples facing walk to opposite sides of the line and turn to face the other line again. Couples keep to the other Couples right in passing.

RIGHT AND LEFT - Each dancer takes the right hand of the dancer directly opposite. Pass by, dropping hands. Partners, or as directed by Caller, face and join left hands. Gents place their right hand under Lady's left forearm. Gent backs around. Lady walks around. Right and Left Back the same way.

HALF RIGHT AND LEFT (Lady Walpole's Reel) Same as Right and Left without returning to starting position.

SET (Lady Walpole's Reel) - Two lines of dancers facing. Ladies in one line. Gents in the other. Usually six to eight Couples in each Set. HEAD of the Set is nearest Caller or record player.

SET (SQUARE) Four Couples - Each Couple having their backs to one of the four walls. Couples with their backs to the Caller or record player are Couples No. 1, Couples on Couple One's right are No. 2. Facing Couple One's position Couple No. 3, facing Couple Two's position Couple No. 4. Couples One and Three are HEAD Couples. Couples Two and Four are SIDE Couples. Distance between facing Couples: about six feet.

STAR BY THE RIGHT (Right Hand Star) - Couples, or those designated by Caller, walk to each other and join right hands in a star formation and walk in the direction they are facing (clockwise).

SWING - Partners, or those designated by Caller, face. Gents take one step to the center and walk alongside Lady. (If with Corner or One Below Gent takes one step to his left and walks alongside Lady). The outside of the right feet should touch to start. The left foot is about six inches to the side with the toe of the left foot in line with the heel of the right. Take a regular dance arm position, leaning back a bit so as to obtain leverage. With a slight pivot step on the ball of the right foot keep shoving around on the left as if on a scooter.

source: adapted from Square Dances: Honor Your Partner LP, Educational Activities, Inc., 1965


Related Information:

  • Square Dance History and Heritage
  • A Brief History of Square and Round Dancing
  • Square Dance Definitions
  • Lynn's Student Square Dance Page
  • Educational Activities, Inc.



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