Monday, November 14, 2011
Photos: Square dancing at the Trinity River Audubon Center on a Saturday night
Community art project turns out to be a lot of fun.
DALLAS Though the popularity of square dancing has declined, it has seen a resurgence in a few hipster communities such as Portland, Ore., and San Diego.
On Saturday night, it surfaced in Dallas, when about 300 folks gathered at the Trinity River Audubon Center for Square Dance: A Community Project. Caller Wayne Shoemaker gave them a quick lesson in basic steps, and within 30 minutes, the congregation was gliding through promenades, allemandes, and do-si-dos with panache.
The event was conceived as an Art Project by curators Leila Grothe and Cynthia Mulcahy, to encourage social interaction and community. Were you to ask the Yellow Rockers or the Rebel Rousers -- two of the 30 or so already-existing square dance clubs around Dallas -- if what they do is art, they'd probably be confused by your question. But if calling it art helps revive this innately engaging dance form with a younger audience, then art it is.
More than a few in the crowd reminisced about learning it in grammar school. Some embraced it with campy enthusiasm by wearing Western shirts and colorful crinoline petticoats (which Shoemaker jokingly critiqued, pointing out that they should be worn beneath, and not in place of, a skirt).
What makes square dancing so great is that it's not only a fun way to get exercise, it engages you mentally, as you await instructions for your next step. It requires that you interact with others, possibly strangers, and everyone is on equal ground. By the end of the session, dancers were laughing and energized.
Music was provided by The Quebe Sisters Band. The dance floor was a patio outside the center, where Grothe & Mulcahy arranged bales of hay and strung festive white lights. Part of their goal was to bring attention to the Audubon Center, a noble endeavor, since it's a beautiful place and made an ideal location for this event. A buffet dinner was served with queso and chili, in eco-friendly containers. Grothe & Mulcahy did fund-raising ahead of time to guarantee that it would be free to all.
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