Yankee Doodle



Yankee Doodle is a square dance described in Edwards Music Company's America's Most Popular Square Dances and Calls (1943).

It's a nice easy introduction to some of fundamental movements of square dancing, as well as the basic structure of visiting dances.

The version described below has been lightly adapted by Nick Enge, as explained below.

The Formation

A square of eight dancers, Follows on the right.

Couples are numbered 1 through 4 counterclockwise around the set starting with the couple with their back to the music.

The Dance

The Figure (64 counts)

First couple lead to the right and four hands around
Lead to the next and right and left
Lead to the last and ladies' chain
All promenade

First couple take hands four with the second couple and circle to the left. Each line of the dance as notated above is 8 bars, or 16 counts, so this is enough for two full revolutions of the circle.

Then the first couple does a full right and left with the third couple: taking right hands with your opposite, pass through, then take left hands with your partner and turn counterclockwise to face your opposite again. Then do that again, passing through by the right and turning partner by the left. At the end, the first couple turns a quarter more than usual to face the fourth couple for the next figure.

Facing the fourth couple, the first couple does a ladies chain with them: Follows take right hands to wheel around to face their opposite, who they give their left hands to, and turn halfway around by the left until Follows face each other again. Do that again to regain partners.

[Originally, there was another 8 bar figure at this point ("All forward and back, turn partners"), but that made the dance 80 counts, when it was presented alongside 64 counts of music. To make the dance perfectly fit the music, and to make the choreography flow even better, in the adapted version, we go straight to:]

First and fourth couples keeping left-in-left hands, take right hands over to promenade all the way around the set, traveling counterclockwise to places. All couples participate in this part of the figure.

At the end of the promenade, the second couple keeps going to approach the third couple and:

Couple #2 Does the Figure (64 counts)

Couple #3 Does the Figure (64 counts)

Couple #4 Does the Figure (64 counts)

Note that not only does the couple leading the figure change each time—the part of the figure that each couple does also changes. For example, when Couple #1 is dancing, Couple #4 dances the ladies' chain, but when Couple #2 is dancing, Couple #4 does the right and left, and when Couple #3 is dancing, Couple #4 does hands four.

The Music

"Yankee Doodle" is the intended tune, but any square dance tune will do.


© 2020 Nick Enge

For more dance descriptions, see our three books on dancing:
The Book of Mixers: 100 Easy-Teach Dances for Getting Acquainted (2022) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge,
Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge, and
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge.

For full-length teaching videos, visit: University of Dance.

For help crafting a life you love, visit: Project Quartz.

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