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Kentucky Mountain Square Dancing

Written in 1949 and republished many times, this is a vital reference for anyone interested in southern Appalachian dance. Patrick Napier is a well-known dance leader at the Christmas Country Dance School in Berea, Kentucky, and this is his compilation of dance figures from eastern Kentucky. It is a PDF file available for download (easier…

Carcassonne big set, #2

This is another example of traditional southern Appalachian big set square dance, recorded by John Ramsay in Carcassonne, Kentucky, September 19, 1991. With relatively few examples on our site of this style of dancing, we have included the dance in its entirety. This one includes at least one figure not shown in #1, lady fall through the old side…

Carcassonne big set, #1

This is an excellent example of traditional southern Appalachian big set square dance, recorded by John Ramsay in Carcassonne, Kentucky, September 19, 1991. ("Big set" is the name given by outsiders; locally it's just "square dance.") The tune is Liza Jane. The caller is Randall Caudill; he is the son of Clifton and Ruby Caudill; they hosted the…

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…

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…

Old Time Square Dancing on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Author Bob Dalsemer discovers a long tradition of the "big circle" square dance on this island off the North Carolina coast, far from the Appalachian Mountains where it is usually encountered.

Oh Johnny - Lester Bradley

Big circle mixer. Lester Bradley (caller and guitar) with Paul Amey, fiddle, joined by other musicians: Bob Reed, banjo; David Colburn, guitar; George Randall, 12 string guitar, spoons; Mike Hebb, fiddle; Sylvia Miskoe, accordion; Sue Hunt, accordion; John Derby, mandolin; Samantha Amey, bass; Lynn Bradley Clogston, piano Unlike the more common…

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…

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.

Dare To Be Square - Seattle, 2009

Dare To Be Square – Seattle, Washington, 2009Dare To Be Square is a weekend event celebrating square dancing in its many forms. North Carolina callers Nancy Mamlin and Phil Jamison created the event in 2003 and hosted the first few gatherings at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. Subsequent years saw similar events held in Portland, OR,…

Big Set 2 - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison 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), Another example from the weekend of this big set formation can be found…

Big Set 1- Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison calls at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. This southern Appalachian dance kicked off the Friday night session of the weekend. Phil relies here on just two of the many figures that can be incorporated into that style, "right hand across" and "roll the barrel."…

Shoo-Fly Swing (instruction) - Phil Jamison

See the notes elsewhere comparing this dance with La Boulangère, the only dance mentioned by name by Jane Austen. Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. This was recorded at Dare To Be Square on November 19, 2011, at the John C.…

Mount Airy Big Set - Phil Jamison - Southern Appalachian squares

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. Throughout the weekend, we did several dances in this basic big circle formation. In this version, from the Mount Airy, NC, region, instead of everyone doing a series of figures at the same time as…

Carcassonne big set - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. Carcassonne, Kentucky, still hosts a regular traditional dance series, and these figures are typical of dances there. In this big circle formation, Phil calls two figures-- four leaf clover and lady…

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…

Elizabeth Burchenal 4 - big set, rooftop

In this dance, the lead couple passes around their neighbors, and while behind them passes each other by the right hand, then returns to the center of the set, swings the opposite, and moves on to the next couple.

At :46, the two couples form a basket (ladies bow, gents know how) for a very short basket swing.

At 1:21, the ladies go into the…

Elizabeth Burchenal 3 - big set demo

This appears to be a demonstration of various southern Appalachian big set figures. There are several shots of musicians scattered throughout.The film starts with the Georgia Rang Tang figure, also known by many other names: right hand turn opposite, left hand turn partner, right hand turn opposite, left hand turn partner, swing opposite, swing…