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On May 31, 1995 the legislation was signed by Governor Mel Carnahan and the square dance became the official American folk dance of Missouri and the Missouri mule was declared the official state animal of Missouri. Square dances are derived from folk and courtship dances brought to the United States by European immigrants. Lively music and callers are hallmarks of square dancing. The caller directs the dancers by singing the names of figures and steps to be performed. (RSMo 10.120)
At leaste twenty-two states have passed legislation to declare the square dance as a state symbol 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 dance is a folk dance for four couples that was first described in 17th century England, but which has become associated with the United States of America due to its historic development in that country. The various movements used in square dancing are based on traditional folk dances of the various people who migrated to the USA. Some of these dances include Morris dance, English Country Dance, and the quadrille. Square dancing is enjoyed by people around the world, and people around the world are involved in the continuing development of this dance.
The movements are prompted by calls. The calls are put together by a caller to form a dance. The caller leads but does not participate in the dance.
The law designating the dance, Square Dance, as the official Missouri state folk dance is found in the Missouri Revised Statutes, Title 2, Chapter 10, Section 10.120
TITLE II. SOVEREIGNTY, JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS.
Chapter 10.State Emblems.
State folk dance.
10.120. 1. As used in this section, the term "square dance" means an American folk dance which is called, cued or prompted to the dancers and includes square, rounds, clogging, contra, line and heritage dances.
2. The dance commonly known and referred to as the "Square Dance" is selected for and shall be known as the "American Folk Dance of the State of Missouri".
(L. 1995 H.B. 84 & 98)