Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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Some teachers have them rise on the toe of the left foot as they sweep back with the right, then point with the right and close with the left. Although this is an accepted form, I think it a bit prettier to dip slightly with the left knee while sweeping the right foot back rather than to show much of a rise on the left toe. Or, if you want the movement very pronounced, you will direct them to use the old custom of hopping on the left while they swTeep back with the right. And it is so instinctive for some people to put in this hop that they are apt to do it without your suggestion. But it is too jerky with a beginner, and I think it best to discourage the hop.
And that, over and over again, is all there is to the Varsouvianna as you find it at most of our dances. Once in a while you may see a couple do a turn back instead of a cross-over. That is, on the sweep-point-step-cross-point, in­stead of having the lady cross over in front of the man and get on his left side, she takes these short steps in position doing a rightabout-face as she does so, the man likewise doing a rightabout-face. This leaves them both facing di­rectly backward and the lady now, of course, on the left of the man with his left arm over her shoulder. Then a left-about faces them forward and puts her on the right side, and so instead of crossing over she turns forward and back, and it proves a very graceful variation.
Using essentially the same steps, the different nations have developed a great variety of positions and styles. The Mexicans have the loveliest variations that I have seen. They carry through the step not only in the standard posi­tion, but in the regular dance position, in a back-to-back position, in a grand circle, and even in a grand right and left which is most delightful. And they do it all as a figure, with three couples working in and out from the points of a triangle.
Perhaps it was their influence, or a European influence, but in any case the oldest pioneers tell me that it used always to be danced here in the West in a variety of posi­tions and each alternating with the waltz.
Miss Mary Kelleher, who gave me the three-part varia­tion of the Schottische, has given me this arrangement, which in turn was brought by her mother from the western slope of Colorado where she danced it in the early days. It is the form we like best and that we always dance.

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