CUMBERLAND — The Riley Wranglers Square Dancing Club will host a free introduction to square dancing session Sept. 17 at the Cumberland United Methodist Church, 219 N. Muessing St. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a meal for prospective students followed by an introduction to square dancing from 7 to 8 p.m. This event is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about square dancing. Here are five things to know about this traditional form of American folk dance:

1. If you can walk, you can square dance

Many husbands insist that they can’t dance, so wives may have difficulty convincing their husbands to join them on the dance floor. “If you can walk — and listen — you can square dance,” said Nancy Holzhausen, vice president of the Riley Wranglers. Most husbands can at least walk.

2. Square dancing is good physical exercise

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The Riley Wrangler website lists the physical benefits of square dancing. It is estimated that square dancers burn up to five calories a minute depending on the speed and intensity of the dance. Dancing also keeps the joints lubricated to ward off osteoporosis, aids in the control of cholesterol and benefits the cardiovascular system.

3. Dancing provides mental exercise as well

Research in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that dancing beats out crossword puzzles and reading as the leading activity in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Reading produced a 35 percent reduced risk; crossword puzzles produced a 46 percent reduced risk; but seniors who engaged regularly in social dancing had a 76 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

4. If you can square dance in Indiana, you can square dance in Italy

Because square dancing is considered to have originated in America, with American terms for dance moves such as allemande left or do-si-do, the square dance caller – who shouts out the moves during the dance – calls them in English. “A caller in Japan could be singing in Japanese,” Holzhausen said, “but the calls will be in English.”

5. Square dancing is fun

Holzhausen and her husband, Mike, have been members of the Hancock-County based Riley Wranglers since 1993. As a dancing team, they annually attend the Indiana Square Dance Convention and have been to 18 national conventions all over the country.

“People have the idea that square dancing is corny,” Holzhausen said, “but it’s really fun. People don’t know what they’re missing.”

The Riley Wranglers Square Dance Club operates from September to May. Weekly lessons start Sept. 21 and run through April. Classes are $4 per person, but the first class is free. Dances are twice a month on Saturdays. For more information, call 317-894-7765 or visit

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Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or