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WE TALK IT OVER
couples are numbered in opposite pairs, the couples here are numbered "one-two-three" around the circle to the right as in our Western dance. With a little preliminary explanation any group of Western dancers could instantly pick up and execute the Kentucky dances in no time at all. Through the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, where they are still danced in an intermediate form, these dances probably moved on to the West and developed a distinct form of their own to suit the needs of our early pioneers.
To be sure, our Western dance has the courtesy movements, such as Honors right and honors left, and much bowing and saluting of the ladies. And this, of course, is derived from the New England Quadrille, along with such figures as Right and left through, Two ladies change, etc. But primarily, and at its very heart, I believe the Western dance stems back to the pagan ceremonials of our English ancestors by way of the Kentucky Running Set.
The Tide Comes Back
A book has just come to my desk which interests me very much. Written most delightfully by two simon-pure New Englaftders, Tolman and Page, it gives a picture of the present-day New England dance as done in New Hampshire. They call it The Country Dance Book, probably quite unaware that Cecil Sharp had used that title before them. And as they say, "like a frog hollerm' for his own puddle," they describe their village dance quite unconcerned and entirely unaware of the square dance as danced in other parts of the country.
The fascinating thing to me is the internal evidence in the dances they describe of the impact of the Western dance on their present-day New England forms. The waves that rolled out from Kentucky and New England have washed together and broken against the cliffs of the Rocky Mountains and have now surged back with a new impulse that is apparently felt all over New England. The tide comes back.
The modern dances they describe are freer, a little more irregular, a little more hilarious. I am sure they would distress a dancing master of half a century ago. And the "prompter" of that elder day with his clipped, terse directions, is being replaced by a "caller" who fills in with a