The Riley Wranglers offers Western Style Square Dancing and Round Dancing along with
some line dancing thrown in every now and then.
Modern Western square dance (also called Western square dance, contemporary Western
square dance, modern American square dance or modern square dance) is one of two
types of square dancing, along with traditional square dance. As a dance form, modern
Western square dance grew out of traditional Western dance. The term "Western square
dance", for some, is synonymous with "cowboy dance" or traditional Western square
dance. Therefore this article uses the term "modern Western square dance" to describe
the contemporary non-historical dance which grew out of the traditional dance.
Modern Western square dance, like traditional square dance, is directed by a square
dance 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 (four couples) in each square; at a dance
there may be many squares. Generally speaking, each of these squares dances 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.
The square functions as a "dance team" for the duration of a square dance tip, a
group of dances usually separated from the next tip by a pause during which the dancers
regroup into new squares. A square dance tip is usually composed of a combination
of pattern calls and singing calls, the two types of square dance calls.
Round dancing is choreographed and cued ballroom dancing. We dance most of the popular
ballroom rhythms, such as foxtrot and waltz, cha-cha and rumba, and many others listed
in the navigation bar to the left. This is a pretty long list. There is certainly
no need to get bored with round dancing.
The exciting difference between round dancing and free-style ballroom dancing is
that each round dance has been fully choreographed ahead of time. A beautiful piece
of music is selected, and the different steps or figures are chosen to fit the music
exactly. If the music swells and pauses briefly, then a dance step that rises and
stretches is put into that place. If there is a little syncopation in another partof the song, then a quick little step is inserted. The creation of a piece of choreography
is like engineering a machine, with every gear and lever in just the right place
to give smooth and flowing motion. The step-by-step instructions on how to dance
this choreography is written out in what is called a "cue sheet."
Secondly, there is a cuer or leader at the front of the ballroom who tells the dancers
what steps to do. As the music plays, and just ahead of the beat, so the dancers
have time to respond, the cuer names each dance figure in the choreography. The
cueing lets us dance lots and lots of dances without having to memorize the choreography.
You may recognize that this is the way square dancing is done, with a caller telling
the couples what to do: “swing your partner, do-si-do.” In round dancing, the cuer
might say: "open telemark, pick up, and diamond turn."