Weekly Feature



2011-09-14 / Lifestyles

It's Hip to be Square

Waterwheel Squares offers annual open houses
by KATE MOCKLER Reporter


Al Prell and Judy Kovach dance with three other couples as part of a square at a dance in Lockport. This region was once home to more than 24 square dance clubs, but only a few remain today. 
Photos by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Al Prell and Judy Kovach dance with three other couples as part of a square at a dance in Lockport. This region was once home to more than 24 square dance clubs, but only a few remain today. Photos by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Square dancing.

For many, just the name brings memories of seventh grade gym class, complete with the sweaty palms, the social awkwardness and the cheesy music.

But if that’s your only image of square dancing, members of the Waterwheel Squares want you to know that you’re missing out.

“They think of the old barn dance, and it’s not like that. You dance to waltzes, you dance to cha-cha, anything with a beat,” said Judy Kovach.

Kovach had always enjoyed dancing and had done some ballroom dance. Then she saw a demonstration by the club at Canal Fest in 1995 and decided to give it a try. Now, she regularly travels to dances in Lockport, West Seneca and Rochester.


Judy Kovach and Al Prell are avid square dancers and travel to many clubs in the area. On Sept. 19 and 26, the Waterwheel Squares in Amherst will hold open houses so that people can try out square dancing. Judy Kovach and Al Prell are avid square dancers and travel to many clubs in the area. On Sept. 19 and 26, the Waterwheel Squares in Amherst will hold open houses so that people can try out square dancing. Amherst resident Alma Bodden joined at the urging of two of her friends, members of her group for widows. She had done tap and line dancing and gave the group a chance. She is currently the vice president of Waterwheel Squares.

Al Prell had always been more comfortable providing the music. A church member talked him out from behind his drums and onto the dance floor. That was in the 1970s, and he’s been dancing ever since, holding multiple offices in Waterwheel

Squares.

Multiple states have named square dancing their official folk dance. After World War II, American GIs introduced the dance to the countries in which they were stationed, and it has become an international phenomenon. Its true roots are difficult to trace, however, and Waterwheel Squares members state that they have seen square dance elements in many types of folk dance.

“People have been dancing since they stood upright,” said Kovach.

September is National Square Dance Month, and in order to give more people the opportunity to try square dancing, Waterwheel Squares is holding two open sessions from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays, Sept. 19 and 26, at the Amherst Community Church, 77 Washington Highway. Because it is a “singles club,” you don’t need a partner to attend, although couples are welcome. The group’s caller, Mike Callahan, will provide lessons.

“He’s called in Germany, he’s called in New Zealand, he called all over the States and Canada,” said Prell of Callahan’s experience. Refreshments will be provided during the open houses.

Members of the Waterwheel Squares dance together on a weekly basis from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays at the same church. They often hold special events to make the dances more fun. In the past, they’ve had Hawaiian Night, Crazy Hat Night, a “Snowflake Dance” featuring Christmas music in July, and a “Monkey Dance,” where dancers brought toy monkeys and used monkey-themed music.

The bonds that dancers form are among the Waterwheel Squares’ favorite aspects of dancing. Kovach has a bumper sticker on her car that reads, “Square dancing is friendship set to music,” and all of the Squares enjoy the social aspect of square dancing.

“You can’t be standoffish in square dance,” Kovach said, explaining that the nature of the dance requires people to change partners frequently, even if they attend the dances as part of a couple.

“It’s fun because the people are nice,” Bodden said. “You don’t think of it as lessons; you think of it as dancing and fun.”

“It’s an inexpensive night — $6 a person [after the open houses are over]. You can’t go to a movie for that,” said Prell.

For more information, visit www.waterwheelsquares.com, or call Kovach at 695-3523.

Waterwheel Squares Open House

. WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m.
Mondays,
Sept. 19 & 26

. WHERE:
Amherst
Community Church
77 Washington Hwy.

Return to top