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Square dancing is a folk dancing tradition of the United States. The square dance was adopted as the American Folk Dance of the State of Illinois in 1990 by an act of the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation was signed by Governor James R. Thompson.
At least twenty-two states have passed legislation to declare the square dance as the state folk dance and more than thirty bills have been introduced at the federal level proposing the square dance as the national (folk) dance of the United States.
Square dancing is the American folk dance which traces its ancestry to the English country dance and the French ballroom dance. It is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers. It includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, the Virginia reel, and heritage dances. When the pioneers came west, they brought with them a dance called the quadrille, which means square in French. The pioneers liked the simpler term and so the square dance was born. The dance is known for its series of figures and footwork. Dancers are directed by a caller. It is easy to learn, a good form of exercise and fun.
The law designating the square dance as the official Illinois state folk dance is found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Government, Chapter 5, State Designations Act, Section 65.
CHAPTER 5. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
STATE DESIGNATIONS ACT.
SECTION 65. (5 ILCS 460/65)
Sec. 65. State folk dance. The dance known as the Square Dance is designated the American Folk Dance of the State of Illinois. (Source: P.A. 87-273.)