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Old-Time Revival: Traditional Appalachian Square Dancing Slowly Refinds its Footing in Knoxville

Reprinted by permission of Metro Pulse and Holly Haworth, © 2013 This well-written and lengthy article (available as a PDF through the link above or on its original website posting) captures the feeling of many of the new dance series spring up that feature southern Appalachian tunes and dances.

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.

Big Set 3 - Phil Jamison

Recorded May 5, 2012, at the evening dance at Dare To Be Square, Riner, Virginia. Phil Jamison, of Asheville, NC, is the caller for this first dance of the program.

Musicians are Chance McCoy -- fiddle; Sebastian Zijp -guitar; Mac Traynham -- banjo; Frances West - first bass player; Andrew Norcross - second bass player.

Texas Star - Phil Jamison

Recorded May 5, 2012, at the evening dance at Dare To Be Square, Riner, Virginia. Phil Jamison, Asheville, NC, is the caller. Musicians are Chance McCoy -- fiddle; Bob Browder -- guitar;; Mac Traynham -- banjo; Frances West - first bass player; Andrew Norcross - second bass player. Ardent fans of Texas Star may wish to compare the dancing here with…

Brasstown Callers

The six callers at Dare To Be Square, Brasstown, NC, 2011. They are also consultants to this Square Dance History Project. From left to right: Phil Jamison, Bill Litchman, Larry Edelman, Tony Parkes, Bob Dalsemer, and Jim Mayo

DTBS Callers & musicians

The callers are joined by the musicians from the Dare To Be Square Weekend. Front row: Jim Morrison, guitar and fiddle; Sam Bartlett, banjo; Claudio Buchwald, piano and fiddle; Steve Hickman, fiddle

"Barn Dances with Calls"

Article published in The Old-Time Herald (Volume 7, Number 8) discussing what can be learned from a careful study of old dance records. Includes a discography.

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…

Square Dance in Haywood County, NC

Detailed look at western North Carolina, a region rich in square dance traditions including that of Sam Queen and the Soco Gap Square Dancers. Jamison starts his article with a look at the turn of the century house dances and "Shindigs" then surveys the grand hotels and the tourist trade. His survey continues through the post World War II era.

Phil Jamison 1: Southern Appalachian Dance

Dance caller, musician, and historian Phil Jamison discusses the distinguishing characteristics of southern Appalachian square dance forms.

Phil Jamison 2: African influences, and African-American callers

Phil Jamison discusses his research into the origins of American square dance in the south, and describes the key role that African-American musicians played . There are the well-known musical elements—the role of the banjo, for example—and Phil also points out that the first callers were African-American. Even some distinctive square dance…

Phil Jamison 3 - The caller's role in Southern squares

The square dance caller in Southern dance traditions plays a somewhat different role than his Northern counterpart. Phil looks at the way a Southern caller improvises and uses basic figures in different ways.

Phil Jamison 4 - Cecil Sharp and the "running set"

Phil discusses the origins of the term "running set," going back to when the English folklorist and collector Cecil Sharp first encountered southern Appalachian dancing.For a demonstration of the actual dance, see this video called by Stew Shacklette.

Patter Calling - origins

Patter calling is a style of square dance calling in which the caller speaks the words or chants them on a musical pitch, hopefully in harmony with the tune. The classic form of patter is rhyming couplets. Typically the caller supplements the dance directions with extra words to make the call lines fit the four-beat musical phrases; these words can…

Outside Susie - Larry Edelman - Dances of Jerry Goodwin:

Caller Larry Edelman credits this version of the Susie Q figure to Frank Tyrell. This clip includes a walkthrough.

Recorded at Dare To Be Square, Brasstown, NC, November 19, 2011.

Musicians for this session were Steve Hickman, fiddle; Claudio Buchwald, piano; Phil Jamison, banjo; Jim Morrison, guitar; and Sam Bartlett, banjo. The tune is an…

Let's All Face Out - Larry Edelman - Dances of Jerry Goodwin:

Larry Edelman, caller; dance by Buford Evans. Larry incorporates two figures from the "allemande alphabet": Allemande X (pass one and swing the next) and Allemande O (pass one and dosido).

Recorded at Dare To Be Square, Brasstown, NC, November 19, 2011.

Musicians for this session were Steve Hickman, fiddle; Phil Jamison, banjo; Claudio…

Missing Link, The - Larry Edelman

Larry Edelman, caller, cites this dance by Frank Tyrell as one of his favorites, marking the transitional moment between traditional and modern square dancing. It combines figures from the "around the set" visiting-couple tradition and the "across the set" quadrille tradition, and keeps more dancers active than was common in either tradition. This…

Big Circle Dance from Carcassonne, KY - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. In this video, Phil introduces the big set formation danced in Carcassonne, Kentucky; an accompanying video shows actual dance footage.This was recorded at Dare To Be Square on November 19, 2011, at the…

Shoo-Fly Swing - dance - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. He described this figure as an ending figure that can come at the end of a big circle dance. A separate video describes the moves in more detail. This was recorded at Dare To Be Square on November 19,…

Southern Appalachian Squares 0 - Sampler - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. This samples provides excerpts of the dances presented in that workshop. You will be able to find teaching and a longer dance clip of each dance in related videos elsewhere on this site.

00:00 Big Set…