News

Square dancing: It's not so square

Square dancers in the Kitsap Pavilion kick up their heels on Saturday morning at the 52nd Washington State Square and Folk Dance Festival held last Friday and Saturday. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Square dancers in the Kitsap Pavilion kick up their heels on Saturday morning at the 52nd Washington State Square and Folk Dance Festival held last Friday and Saturday.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

A new crop of young dancers is discovering a very old dancing tradition.

The 52nd annual Washington State Square and Folk Dance Festival, held at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Friday and Saturday, June 20-21, drew more than 1,000 people — many of them teens and younger.

Senior citizens Janet and Doug Seavy teach the “Dancing Jewels,” an Everett-based group of mostly teenage square dancers.

“The group ranges in age from 10 to 23,” said Janet Seavy. “We’ve even taught 7-year-olds. We teach square dancing, round dancing and choreographed ballroom dancing.”

She said square dancing and line dancing are more popular than ever — and with a younger crowd.

“Not only every age, but all over the world. It’s become very popular in England. And we know a couple who went to Saudi Arabia and discovered Saudis square dancing,” she said.

In the Northwest, she said the Dancing Jewels will compete in Puyallup, then at the 2005 national convention in Portland.

She said she knew of other, similar teen square dancing groups in Kitsap County, “three or four” in Seattle, and several in Oregon and Canada.

“We’ve taught over 160 kids, and kept a lot of kids off the streets,” she said.

Joan Weaver of Port Orchard, treasurer of the Peninsula Council of Square and Folk Dancers, said there are 12 councils in the state.

“Our big day was Friday,” she said, when about 1,000 people attended. Saturday, the festival’s last day, drew several hundred.

Nationally known “callers” who attended included Shane Greer of Oklahoma, Dan Nordbye of Arizona, Grayce Bice of Maryland.

The festival was held in the Kitsap Pavilion, President’s Hall and three other buildings on the grounds.

Types of dancing that were featured included:

l Square, using sets of four dancers and a caller to lead them.

l Round, a western form of ballroom involving couples and a “cuer.”

l Clogging, a western form of tap.

The festival featured a section with vendors selling dancing clothes, belt buckles, ties, shoes, hats, jewelry, buttons and labels, stuffed toys, T-shirts, foot orthotics and refreshments. There was also a sewing clinic.

Weaver concluded by saying folk dancing is “Friendship put to music.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 17 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates