Square dancing: It's not so square
June 11, 2008 · Updated 12:35 PM
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. Weve 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. Its 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.
Weve 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 festivals 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, Presidents 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.