Mary Anne Turner (centre) teaches Doug and Pam McIntosh of  Williams Lake (left) and Helen and Henry Hall of Lac la Hache (right) some steps during the Mexican fiesta themed jamboree held this spring at Glendale Elementary School.

Mary Anne Turner (centre) teaches Doug and Pam McIntosh of Williams Lake (left) and Helen and Henry Hall of Lac la Hache (right) some steps during the Mexican fiesta themed jamboree held this spring at Glendale Elementary School.

Square dancing exercises the mind and body

Just like country music, today’s square dancers are branching out — becoming cross-over artists in their own way.

Just like country music, today’s square dancers are branching out — becoming cross-over artists in their own way.

You will see dancers grooving to songs like Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ and ‘Hey Soul Sister’ by the rock band Train, as well as to major hit songs from the 1920s on. “Square dance music has to have a solid beat — the  50s 60s 70s were great eras for danceable music but lots of modern music is also suitable,” says Nick Turner, caller for the Stampede Whirlaways — Williams Lake Square Dance Club.

Traditional crinolines and fancy skirts may come out at inter-club jamborees in the spring but right alongside them you will see women dressed in modern broom or straight line skirts. And at the regular Thursday night club dances, the evenings can be downright casual, with women often choosing to dance in pants. The only real requirement for participation is to wear soft-soled shoes so as not to scuff up the floors.

Nick and his wife Mary lead and teach square and round (choreographed ballroom) dancing for the Whirlaways and are inviting empty-nesters, parents, and children ages 10 and up to join them in a series of nine introductory sessions to modern square dancing that will start this Friday evening, Oct. 19 at the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Centre.

No experience and no special clothing is required — just a smile and you can even bring along your two left feet, they say.

Participants will have fun right away as they learn the basic steps in square dancing that, when put together by the caller, become the dance.

“One of the joys of square dancing is that it challenges the mind as well as the body,”  Nick says

Mary Anne says the challenge is to listen for the call and translate the call to your feet.

“When I first started square dancing I was nervous; now it’s just second nature,” Mary Anne says.

The Whirlaways would like to see more people join their group.

“It’s a great social activity for empty-nesters heading into retirement who have more time on their hands and want to add a new dimension to their exercise program,” Nick says, “and it is a great activity for parents to interact with their kids.”

During the club’s regular dance nights, held on Thursday evenings from October through mid-April, Nick calls the square dances and Mary Anne cues round dances.

Round dancing is an easy way for couples to learn different ballroom rhythms as there is no emphasis on the man to have to lead, Mary Anne says.

Each partner learns his and her steps and all the couples do the same figures as they move counterclockwise around the hall.

At the moment Mary Anne says the local club is concentrating on the two step and the waltz because that is what the members want to learn, but round dances are done to all sorts of rhythms such as the cha cha, rumba, jive or fox trot.

In May and June club members travel to jamboree dance weekends around the province, and they host visitors for Williams Lake’s own spring jamboree.

This is a special weekend because it has a theme such as Fiesta, Cajun or Sea Cruise, for example, and for 2013 the theme is Polynesian Paradise.

“It’s a very social activity and each square dance club is like a family,” Nick says. “When you square dance at jamborees in other communities it’s like an extended family.”

On another note, the North West Pacific Teen Dance Festival has been holding teen dance festivals for 60 years, alternating between B.C. and Washington State and the Turners would like to see more young people from this area get involved in dance to enjoy those festivals.

Nick says there is also a shortage of callers and cuers in this area and in the province generally so he would like to see more people learn these skills so that a great traditional dance form can be kept alive.

To register for the beginner square dance sessions call Marie Gibbons at 250-392-5360 or Nick and Mary Anne Turner at 250-392-2432 or email nmturner@telus.net

For information and videos go to www.wmslk.squaredance.bc.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health has issued an overdose alert for 100 Mile House.
Interior Health issues overdose alert for 100 Mile House

Health officials encourage users to be careful and spread the word.

Mclean Silverton rides a rail in Boitanio Park - one of seven new features installed by the city this past week. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Snow park in Boitanio open for riding

If any users find that the park requires attention, please contact city hall at 250-392-2311

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor (from left) Judy Gibbons and Rajneesh Khugsal, seen here in 2020, are all ready to help people file their taxes. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake volunteers ready to offer community income tax program

Co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor said he has already received inquiries

Women’s Contact Society community liaison Eileen Alberton with her dogs Luigi, left, and Sami enjoys a daily walk in Big Lake. (Photo submitted)
Women’s wellness focus of International Women’s Day events in Williams Lake

In its third year, the event will be offered virtually

A snowfall warning has been issued for Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Black Press Media)
Snowfall warning issued for Cariboo region

Between 10 to 15 cm expected

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read