One Oklahoman is helping to keep square dancing alive

Square dance caller Jim Howard is helping keep the dance alive in Oklahoma. (KOKH)

It's the official state dance of 28 states. In the 1920's, Henry Ford boosted its popularity by having his workers learn how to do it. But other dance forms almost put an end to the square dance.

"The mean age of a square dancer is probably early 60's," said Jim Howard.

Fortunately, Howard is doing all he can to keep the do-si-dos spinning and the promenades, well... promenading.

He's been square dancing since 1969 when he was a kid growing up in Elk City.

"My mom and dad were big square dancers and my dad was a caller, so I just kind of grew up square dancing," Howard said.

Howard refuses to let this American tradition die. He spent 20 years in the Navy taking square dancing across the world, teaching people in every country he visited.

"I started calling professionally in 1986 when I was in Iceland," he said.

Howard retired in 1996, returned to Oklahoma, and now teaches Oklahomans of all shapes and sizes. On Mondays, as many as 60 people will gather to square dance.

Leesa Sparks started dancing five months ago.

"I wanted something that would get me active and motivated," Sparks said. "Something that wasn't so hard on my body."

Sparks was hooked with her first step.

Mary and Dan Reznicek have been married 34 years and square dancing for 11. They enjoy the dancing and being members of a club.

"We travel, we camp, we go to different places together, we do cookouts, and we do birthday parties," Mary said. "We don't just square dance."

Howard says square dancing is now on the rebound in the Metro and he's hoping to keep it going for a very long time.

"My dad called well into his 70's so I figure I can call well into my 70's," Howard said. "So another 20 years I hope!"

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