The UK development organisation and membership
body for community and participatory dance
Animated Edition - Spring 2010
Susie Kelly responds to Rachel Elliott's article on English folk dance, Animated Winter 2010

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Image: Weekend dance for experienced Square dancers, October 2009. Photo: Susie Kelly.
I've looked up the next issue of the magazine online to read Rachel Elliott's article (Animated winter 2010). I look forward to receiving my copy by post so that I can show it and discuss various points with the RPM Committee. (Set up by the Square Dance Callers Club of GB and the British Association of American Square Dance Clubs, the letters stand for Recruit, Promote, Maintain).

It puzzles me that more non-performance-based dancing isn't included in the magazine. From what I've seen it's the artistic side of dance that is prevalent. Couldn't more emphasis be placed on the fun and friendship within communities that occurs in square dance, folk dance, circle dance, etc?

I also want to express some of my (our) feelings about the way square dancing is viewed by the media. We sometimes manage to get on the radio or TV for short interviews or quick demonstrations, and every time the interviewer or presenter ends up making fun of us by giving us the old Hi-de-hi routine. I've never seen other forms of dance mocked in this way. Even line dancing receives viewing time, and ballroom dancing now has a cult following.

There's so much in square dancing outsiders just don't understand. It's an inclusive form of dance that almost any person off the street could do. Square dancers can move about the world and find immediate friendship. However in square dancing the caller is improvising, and the dancers have to know the moves well enough to react upon command. It may take six months to learn them this well, but there has to be a teaching period for any form of dance. (How many hours of practice go into learning just one of the dances in Strictly?) And once learned, the variety of choreographic intricacy possible is well-nigh infinite. It appeals to puzzle solvers and mathematicians, and keeps your brain stimulated as it promotes physical wellbeing. And you don't have to be beautiful, athletic or have perfect rhythm to do it. You just need to be able to walk, know your right hand from your left and enjoy having fun.

Susie Kelly, Hon Secretary of the SquareDance Callers Club of Great Britain.

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Animated: Spring 2010