European Association
of American Square Dancing Clubs e.V.

Friendship is Square Dancing's greatest reward


EAASDC-Bulletin May 2011

Quadratically creative thinking

Square of the Circle

Ulla Hoppe, (ehemals) Colonia Swingers

Some time ago I had the pleasure to see an exhibition of graphic art by Leonardo da Vinci. There was, among others, the painting “Quadrature of the Circle” which has fascinated me for a long time. You sure all know the painting: there is a man with outstretched arms and legs and his hands and feet touches the circle as well as the square which encircles him.

And this is already the subject: “Square” and “Circle”, forms which built a contradiction and are yet combined in each other? Is that possible?

This question kept me occupied once in a while and I sharpened my senses for these forms which are around me everywhere. In the course of time I discovered quite a number of examples in this context, to begin with, naturally in our well known Square Dance world.

Four couples stand in a square, i.e. in a quadrangle, but with a “right and left grand” our path follows a circle. And even more with “grand square” which is probably the most “angular” figure of all: here at the latest some dancers really play up. They have their fun and things go “round”.

You sure still remember your own graduation or the one from last June: the room has four corners and four stations and yet the new dancers go around in a circle.

I had a similar experience with my second favorite sport, tramping: there are round tracks and yet those have corners once in a while.

And even in the covering letter for a draft agreement my boss dictated to me lately he talked about to outline the vertices and ended with the comment that he thought the draft was really a “round” thing.

Last summer I heard a special concert in the philharmonics. They played contemporary pieces of Chinese composers who were born during the culture revolution which is around 1960. It was very unfamiliar for our western ears but I liked it quite well. And I was intrigued by the fact that only a handful of interested listeners had come to great philharmonics and seemed quite lost in the huge round hall. Which made it possible for the musicians to leave their places on the podium after the break and to arrange themselves in a big square around the audience. There was quadrophony in it’s primarily form and we were directly embraced by it. Again these forms, this time vice versa!

Well, and way back there was of course the football world championship in Germany and there again, it went “round” in the truest sense of the word. Often enough we could hear and read the phrase: “The round must go into the angled!” I think I remember that right. Or was it the other way round and the angular was supposed to get into the round? Perhaps not the round ball was meant to go into the angular goal. May be, instead an angular piece of cheese was meant to go into the rounded mouth? Rounded, due to the fact that the person at the time said “Oh!” because the “round” again didn’t land in the “angular” of his side? Be that as it may …

Well, and for the football world championship you could also get puzzles in form of a ball. Yes sir, an exactly round ball was made of these small pieces. Aren’t these pieces usually angular?

Those and similar thoughts went through my brains and parts of them I even spoke out loud when I once again was sitting together with my “quilt” stitching group on a angular table. We were working at a collective quilt for a good cause. The special form in which the quilt is stitched is called “window cathedral”. Well, and even there are “definitions”! In that process an angular piece of cloth is folded and turned around and at the end the borders are attached in a semi circle by hand. When everything is combined the result is a plot of squares and circles in which the circles seem to lay on four squares and are tangent to the borders of the squares, assumed you have worked exactly. But this sounds much more complicated than it is – like in Square Dance.

Lots of interesting and partly confusing thoughts, as it may seem …

After all this thinking everything is turning round in my head and therefore, before I develop a huge angular puzzling maze in my head, I will go outside to get some fresh air, to move my body and will do a circle around the angular block … and look forward to next Wednesday when I will again stand with you in a square and hope we will have a good round …

Until then, with angular and dear greetings Your Ulla

Transl.: Claudia Burger

Finally a fitting comment by Clive Jones: my father used to say: "I may be a square but I've sure been around".

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