There are many different theories as to when line dancingoriginated. Most theorists agree that line dancing as we know itoriginated in Europe as Folk Dancing, also called Tribal Dancing inmany other cultures and countries. The origins of our form of Country & Western line dancing are notalways easy to pin down. Others say that the English CountryDances, or Contra Dances, are the basis for our line dancing. Linedancing, by definition, is a participatory form of dancing, with allthe members dancing together for their own enjoyment, repeatinga pattern of steps in sequence to the beat of the music. These line dance step patterns were fixed and easy to learn soeveryone could participate. The different people, from manycountries, who immigrated to America, obviously brought theirdance traditions with them.By the middle 1800s, Country & Western dance was becomingpopular from the Midwest of America all the way to the West Coast. There were some line dances at that time, but the majority werecouples dances that followed set steps.At around the same time, dancing in the New England arearesembled the Contra Dances of Europe, which were directlyrelated to the English Country Dancing that can be traced back to a1650 book of dance sheets, the first instance of line dancinginstructions. Contra dancing was performed with two lines facingeach other - males in one line and females in the other. The headcouple comes together and dances down the middle between thetwo lines and then separate at the end of the line and returns totheir own lines. Then the next couple begins. The “Stroll” is anexample of this.In any event, line dancing, as we know it was probably born inNashville Tennessee in the 1980s when Jim Ferrazano supposedlywrote theline dance stepsto "Tush Push" on a napkin. The dancewas then tested on the dance floor by Melanie Greenwood, a now-
famous line dance choreographer, who later was to write the linedance instructions for "Achy Breaky Heart" to the song of the samename by Billy Ray Cyrus. Some say this is the first instance of achoreographed line dance.Around the same time, Miss Jimmie Ruth White, from Texas,choreographed two dances, "The Traveling Four Corners" and the"J.R. Hustle." These were originally choreographed as squaredances, but were changed into line dances.Line dances were not always done to Country & Western music.Many were done to popular music, such as the line dance "Cruisin'"done to a Beach Boys song called 'Still Cruisin'."A big favorite,"Mustang Sally", is done to the music of the R&Bgroup, The Commitments.One very beautiful line dance, choreographed by Sal Gonzales,called "Dancin' With You" can be danced to the song "Volcano" by Jimmy Buffet.Line dancing came into it’s own around 1992 when Billy Ray Cyrusreleased "Achy Breaky Heart" and Melanie Greenwoodchoreographed the line dance instructions. This song and dancewere a great success and finally put line dancing into it’s ownniche. At this point, many more classes for line dance instructionssprang up and most line dance songs were Country & Western.Line dance videos, and now DVDs, were created to so people couldtake line dancing instructions in the privacy of their own homes.Nowadays, line dancing is popular using both Country & Westernmusic and contemporary music. Many people, especially inEngland, prefer non-Country music for their line dancing. However,line dance songs remain predominately Country in the UnitedStates, Australia, and other places.After learning how to line dance in Hawai'i, Renee Benzaim and herdaughter, Nicolette Gibson, returned to California and taught line
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The Origins of Line Dancing, Line Dance Songs, and Line Dance Instructions
The origins of line dancing remain obscure. Line dancing, in it's many forms, has existed for thousands of years in many countries and cultures. The first line dance instructions were in a book of dance sheets…
The origins of line dancing remain obscure. Line dancing, in it's many forms, has existed for thousands of years in many countries and cultures. The first line dance instructions were in a book of dance sheets from 1650 for English Country Dancing. However, Country line dancing, as we know it, seems to have originated in Europe and came to America with the people who settled here.