For Physical & Mental Exercise, Plus Sociability, Try Modern Western Square Dancing. Its Friendship Set to Music.
As a dance form, modern western square dance grew out of the traditional folk and square dances popular in the American West. Many pioneers and emigrant loved to dance for entertainment and to relieve the rigors of harsh frontier life. Modern western square dancing was the official dance of the United States from 1982 to 1993. Utah designated the “square dance” as the official state Folk Dance in 1994. The Mormon Pioneers loved the square dance for entertainment and to relieve the rigors of harsh frontier life.
Modern western square dance is directed by a caller. In modern western square dance, the caller strings together a sequence of individual square dance calls to make a figure or sequence. These calls are the building blocks of the choreography that is danced by the individuals – square dancers – in the squares. There are eight people in each square. Traditionally squares consist of four male/female couples, although there are many LGBTQ groups, and same gender couples are frequently seen for many reasons. At dances there may be many squares. Generally speaking, each of the squares dance independently of each other, with the exception of specialty or “gimmick” dances, where there might be some crossover of dancers from one square to another.
Are you interested in an activity that is drug and alcohol free and generally conducted in a smoke free environment? Are you interested in making new friends while having fun, forgetting your troubles and getting some exercise? Modern Western Square Dancing may be just the activity you have been missing.
According to a 1994 Mayo Clinic Health Letter “dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During a half-hour of dancing, you can burn between 200 and 400 calories. One factor that determines how many calories you’ll expend is the distance you travel. In, one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and found that each person covered five miles in a single evening. Regular exercise can lead to a slower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 – 40 minutes of continuous activity three or four times a week. Dancing may not provide all the conditioning you need, but it can help. The degree of cardiovascular conditioning depends on how vigorously you dance, how long you dance continuously, and how regularly you do it. The side-to-side movements of many dances strengthens your weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss of bone mass (osteoporosis). If you’re recovering from heart or knee surgery, movement may be part of your rehabilitation. Dancing is a positive alternative to aerobic dancing or jogging. And finally, Square Dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors don’t. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties that contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook.
This pastime is a perfect way to forget your troubles, because it is virtually impossible to think of anything else while you square dance due to the mental focus required by this activity. Keeping your mind sharp is essential in today’s world. If you can walk, you can probably learn to Square Dance. It just takes time and practice. All Square Dancing, whether it’s a dance, a workshop, or class, provides some excellent mental and physical exercise.
You don’t need any special knowledge to learn to square dance. You should be able to walk with adequate balance and hear, with or without assistance. You learn the individual square dance figures in a beginner class at a nearby club. This class usually begins with a taster evening, where you can try out how square dance feels with simple figures. After each break during a dance or class, the dancers form new pairs and square, so can participate in square dance whether or not you come with a partner. The class, during which participants learn the 70 figures, takes about 30-35 practice evenings. The figure names in square dancing are the same internationally and in English, wherever in the world you dance. The step sequence of the respective figure is explained in the national language, in our case in German, Japanese, or, in the US, in English. After completing the course, you then join a club of your choice in order to be able to dance at the weekly club evenings. In addition, you can also visit other clubs or take part in square dance events.
Square Dancing will add ten years to your life, a surprising new study shows. Dr. Arron Blackburn states “It’s clear that square dancing is the perfect exercise. It combines all positive aspects of intense physical exercise with none of the negative elements.” Dr. Blackburn said square dancing is a low impact activity requiring constant movement and quick directional changes that help keep the body in shape. The study was based on their physical examination which indicated that both female and male square dancers could expect to live well into their 80’s. Square Dance movements raise heart rates like other aerobic exercises. All the quick changes of direction loosen and tone up the muscles–but not so severally as to cause injury. In square dancing, when you’re not moving, you’re clapping hands and tapping your feet, which all contributes to long term fitness. “You don’t see a lot of 55-year-old basketball players, but that’s just the age when square dancers are hitting their peak”, Dr. Blackburn said.
Ready to Dance Your Way to Fitness? You’re tempted, but not sure if you’ve got what it takes? Don’t underestimate yourself. Come to an Open House and find out just how much FUN it is. As you might expect, MEN are the hardest to get in the door, but did you know they are last to leave once they try it. If you have read this far and you are not a Square Dancer, we hope that it piqued your interest. If so, find a club near you and get started.