2016 awardee, Mount Pleasant (Isabella County), Square dance calling
Carole Howard (b. 1933) began calling dances while completing her undergraduate teaching degree at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. Her mentor was Grace Ryan, who, according to Carole, “basically wrote the book on calling squares.” Carole and her colleagues could often be found calling throughout central Michigan. Her interest in dance extended to ballroom dancing and she spent a year studying and competing in that form. She graduated from CMU in 1955 and took a job teaching art and physical education in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Michigan. In 1971, Carole and her family moved back to Mount Pleasant where Carole began her career at CMU, teaching international folk and ballroom dance in the Physical Education Department.
Carole approaches each dance she calls with intention, first using a mixer to assess the skill levels of the participants, and then taking off with dances that blend her original patter (the words that frame each dance call) with traditional square dance forms. She makes sure to include details about the origins of the dances she calls- where they come from, who wrote them, and any other tidbits she deems interesting. Her warmth and laughter are enough to get even the most reluctant dancer on the floor. She is sought after for her skill and knowledge of calls, teaching callers such as Dave Goodwin, Pat Hoekje, Glen Morningstar, and Laurie Pietravalle.
For her knowledge of, skill in, and enthusiasm for traditional square dance calling, Carole Howard is awarded the 2016 Michigan Heritage Award.
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