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Items from "Southern Appalachian": 139

Berea Country Dancers - Set Running (1917)

In this re-creation of dances from 1917, the Berea College Country Dancers, under the direction of Ethel Capps, show several figures described by Cecil Sharp in his Country Dance Book V. Sharp first saw dancing at Pine Mountain Settlement School, Kentucky, in 1917. The footage ends with a few words from Marguerite Butler Bidstrup who was present at…

Rural Square Dances in East Tennessee: A Personal Account of Visits to Four Communities

This article appeared (1981) in the scholarly journal published by Country Dance and Song Society. The author describes four East Tennessee square dance communities, including discussion of typical program; he also includes verbatim transcripts of some of the calls. See also a similar account (1974) by Bob Dalsemer of dances in Maryland Line,…

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Beaver Valley Breakdown - Lonesome Luke

More information about this band is available here.

Lonesome Luke & His Farm Hands – Wild Hog in the Woods

Recorded Thursday, February 12, 1931 Richmond IN (Champion 16229)Luke Decker - FiddleIra Decker - BanjoC.W. Johnson - GuitarLee Day - Guitar/CallsPhil Jamison: "Wild Hog in the Woods is one of four recordings made by Lonesome Luke & His Farm Hands in 1931 that includes dance calls. It has been widely available to old-time musicians since the…

Peek-a-Boo Square Dance called by Larry Edelman

Larry Edelman calls at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. In addition to the basic figure, which he demonstrates at the start, he calls a Pokey Eight (aka bouquet waltz) for a break, in which two groups of four whirl around each other on the floor to change positions. Toward…

Big Set square dance called by Phil Jamison

Phil Jamisonn calls at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Figures included in this version include right hands across, Georgia Rang Tang, birdie in the cage, and make a basket (ladies bow, gents know how).

Musicians are Steve Hickman and Jim Morrison, fiddles; Claudio…

Calico Top square dance walkthrough

Larry Edelman leads the walkthrough for this dance at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Elsewhere on this site you can see the actual dance.

Calico Top square dance called by Larry Edelman

Larry Edelman calls at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. An accompanying video on this website shows Larry's walkthrough of the figures in this dance.

Musicians are Steve Hickman, fiddle; Jim Morrison, guitar; Claudio Buchwald, piano; Sam Bartlett, banjo. The tune is…

Devils Dream (clip) - Ernest Legg & Kessinger Brothers

Ernest Legg (1904-1970) was from Charleston, WV (Kanawha County) Kessinger Brothers were fiddler Clark Kessinger (1896-1975) and his nephew, guitar player Luches Kessinger (1906-1944) "Devil’s Dream" (Brunswick 256) was recorded in February 1928 in Ashland, KY

Mountain Dance Trail - West Virginia

Created by folklorists Gerry Milnes and Becky Hill at Davis & Elkins College in Augusta, West Virginia, the Mountain Dance Trail is a statewide effort to support local square customs. The project received a lengthy article in the New York Times, which included a slideshow and video of dancing on its website, and a story (September 5, 2013) on…

"Dancing to the Music: Domestic Square Dances and Community in Southcentral Kentucky (1880-1940)"

This detailed examination of the role of square dances in south central Kentucky is written by a folklorist, who based his findings on interviews with 20 musicians, dancers, and callers in that region. (Another look at Kentucky dancing, by researcher LeeEllen Friedland in the late 1970s, can be found here.)In his introduction, Feintuch writes:…

Stu Jamieson - The Old-Time Kentucky Running Set

Although the title speaks of Kentucky Running Set, this article deals with many different variations of the big circle or big set formation of Southern Appalachian mountain dancing. The author is Stu Jamieson, who was the caller in the film "To Hear Your Banjo Play" with Margot Mayo's American Square Dance Group. In it, he provides a detailed…

West Virginia Square Dances by Robert G. Dalsemer

Dalsemer describes dance figures as done in five rural West Virginia communities in the mid- to late 1970s and reports on their regular dance events, including programming, type of audience, price and method of admission, and the traditions of figure calling and musical performance. He discusses the history of each dance event and their on-going…

Marching Through Georgia - Worley Gardner

(Note: This site also contains a video clip of the dance as called by New England caller Dudley Laufman.)from the chapter on Morgantown, WV, in West Virginia Square Dances, by Bob DalsemerSinging square, recorded by Bob Dalsemer in Morgantown, West Virginia."Everybody circle eight, now circle eight around Everybody circle eight, now all the way…

Kentucky Set Running - 1993

Notes by John Ramsay: "The Kids From The Country, a country dance team from Silver Creek School in Berea, Kentucky demonstrate "running a set" or Set Running. Their music teacher, Mr. Barton, is the caller. Note that each couple takes a turn being the leader. In Daniel Boone's time, each couple would repeat the same figure; when each had their…

Appalachian Big Set - Berea- 1993

The Berea Festival Dancers, with caller Teresa Lowder, perform an Appalachian Big Set demonstration at the 1993 Mountain Folk Festival, Berea, Kentucky. The group is introduced by their director, John Ramsay; the dance itself begins about 1:15.

Figures include:
Little Side Door (lady round two and the gent cut through)
Mountain Do-Si-Do
Shoot…

John Bill Allen - Big set, Berea, 1975

Note: The first minute of the video has garbled sound, but then it clears up.

Notes from John Ramsay: Documentary of local square dancing in Berea, Kentucky circa 1975. The caller, John Bill Allen, had been a member of the College's original Folk Club. He graduated in 1936. The dancers included quite a few Berea College students, some faculty,…

Shoo-Fly Swing and La Boulangère

Compilation of sources that reveal the similarity between La Boulangère, a European dance around 1800 and the only dance mentioned by name by Jane Austen, and the Shoo-Fly Swing, its American descendant found as the closing figure of a big set dance.

John Ramsay - Set Running, a Southern Folk Dance

This article, written in 1987 and updated in 2013 by longtime dancer, caller, and organizer John Ramsay, presents his views on what has been termed "set running," a style of dance that was named by folklorist Cecil Sharp when he came upon it in Harlan County, Kentucky, in 1917. The form is sometimes called the "Kentucky Running Set," though there…

Bob Dalsemer - introduction to Morgantown, WV

audio only, recorded at Dare To Be Square, Seattle, 2009Bob Dalsemer gives an introduction to the common break figure found in Morgantown, West Virginia: "Dance around your corners all and dance around your partners all." He explaines that it's like doing an allemande left with your corner and an allemande right with your partner, but with no…