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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…

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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Square Dancing Atop Lookout Mountain

Article by Karen terHorst describes dancing in New Salem, Georgia, an historically-isolated community above Chattanooga, TN. The article is based on her visit to the dance in the 1970s. The dance stopped taking place sometime around 1990.

"New Salem's style is similar to the Appalachian square dancing described by Frank Smith (1955) and Pat…

Hoodoo Religion and American Dance Traditions: Rethinking the Ring Shout

Article by Katrina Hazzard-Donald looks at the relationship between African-American churches and traditional dance. As the article's summary puts it: "When one considers the history of American dance traditions one rarely thinks about its possible relationship to the local African American "Sanctified" or fundamentalist church described in works…

Traditional Folkdance in Kentucky

Article by LeeEllen Friedland describing the social setting for community dances as well as the dance figures themselves. She differentiates among three types of dance: single dancing, couple dancing and group dancing. Folklorist Burt Feintuch provides a historical look at Kentucky dances in his article here.(excerpt from pp. 6–7) "The…

Late Eighteenth-Century Social Dance (article)

Article that provides a summary of 18th century dance, including the contredanse française, a dance for four couples in a square. Also offers links to documents in the Library of Congress website of dance manuals.

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Nineteenth Century Social Dance (article)

Library of Congress overview of dance history, including links to specific books in their collection.

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Ozark Square Dance, 1949 - newspaper article

Newspaper article (1949) describing dance traditions in Arkansas; includes references to local square dance patter.

Henry Ford’s Dance Revival and Fiddle Contests:
Myth and Reality

Square dance enthusiasts generally know something of the important role played by Henry Ford in encouraging an American square dance revival. This lengthy article by Paul M. Gifford examines this story in more detail and provides a more nuanced view than is commonly presented of Ford's actions and motivations.

The Lancers - Ralph Page's historical notes

In the pages of his Northern Junket magazine, caller and dance historian Ralph Page enjoyed sharing articles based on his dance research. He included a six-part series on the Lancers. California caller and choreographer Chris Page (no relation) created a highly personal index to some of his favorite pieces from the magazine, including links to this…