Folk dance has been a popular social activity throughout the 20th century. The 1939-1940 World's Fairs in New York and San Francisco inspired recreational clubs across the country for international folk dance. Nearly 40,000 square dancers attended the National Square Dance Convention for the United States's Bicentennial in 1976, and folk dance continues to enjoy widespread popularity today.
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This overview of folk dancing in the United States showcases an important historical movement and explains how folk dance communities evolved to fulfill the needs of specific groups of people over time.
While the general term "folk dance" encompasses a surprising variety of specific dances, there are three major recreational communities or forms: international folk dance, modern western square dance, and contra dance. Throughout the last century, millions of people have enjoyed folk dancing as an educational and recreational activity, regardless of the particular style.
Folk Dancing explains the reasons for the folk dance movement that exploded in Europe and North America in the late 19th century. It describes the clubs, camps, festivals, and communities that sprang up, and examines the culture of the movement—the music, key individuals and events, types of clothing, and influences of technologies and popular culture. The book contains authoritative, original information gleaned from the author's own research conducted with hundreds of folk dance enthusiasts across America.
- Presents information based upon hundreds of candid interviews and informal conversations with folk dancers across the country
- Provides a timeline of dance trends in North America as related to the folk dance movement
- Features diagrams of dance formations such as square dance, quadrilles, and contra dance as well as illustrations showing dance positions and community dance events from pre-20th century sources
- Presents original photographs and images collected from interviewees to illustrate different facets of recreational dance communities
- Contains a bibliography of resources that covers a broad scope of folk dance history as well as specific recreational communities
- Includes a glossary of commonly used folk dance terms
- Depicts the relationship of folk dance to historical trends such as colonization of the New World, industrialization, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and the counterculture movement
- Examines folk dancing in the greater context of American dance culture and addresses the relationship between folk dances and other dance forms, such as jazz dance
- Brings folk dance to life through quotes from primary sources as well as firsthand interviews with folk dancers