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Larry Edelman 2: Links in a Chain

Larry Edelman discusses his experiences studying traditional dances in southwestern Pennsylvania; in particular, he ended up studying with caller Jerry Goodwin. Larry began to appreciate how dancers and callers and musicians are links in a chain, keeping alive rich traditions from the past and passing them on to the future.

Larry Edelman 3: Grange Hall Dances & Fire Hall Dances

Larry Edelman discusses the difference between two different traditional dance venues, based on his research in small town dances in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Larry Edelman 4: Influences on a Dance Series

What are some of the influences that affect a traditional community dance? Larry bases his comments on his research in southwestern Pennsylvania, a region that has been influenced by both southern Appalachian and northern dance styles.

Lisa Greenleaf 1 - working with a contra mentor

First in a series of six.

Lisa Greenleaf, a well-known caller of traditional squares and modern squares from the 1950s and 1960s, describes how she got started as a contra caller. She describes working with Larry Jennings, a Boston-area dance organizer and choreographer, who became her mentor.

Lisa Greenleaf 2 - discovering squares

Second in a series of six

Lisa described how she moved into squares, discovering exciting squares at Pinewoods Camp from the calling of Larry Edelman and Kathy Anderson. Later, also at Pinewoods, she got a taste of modern Western squares from Bob Dalsemer and went on to take MWSD lessons at Bay Path Barn in Boylston, MA. From there, she…

Lisa Greenleaf 3 - modern and traditional squares

Third in a series of six

Lisa is one of a relatively small number of individuals who dance both modern and traditional squares. Here she describes what she likes about each form.

Lisa Greenleaf 4 - finding material

Fourth in a series of six In this segment, Lisa offers some advice for individuals interested in learning to call squares. She also discusses where to find new material, and describes the difficulties she encountered when trying to incorporate into her repertoire some dances from Sets in Order in the 1950s and '60s.

Lisa Greenleaf 5 - squares in the contra culture

Fifth in a series of six

Lisa is a well-known caller of contras and squares, usually working at events that are advertised for contra dancers. She discusses some of the challenges of incorporating squares into a program of contras.

Lisa Greenleaf 6 - the future of squares

Last in a series of six Lisa talks about ways to keep modern square dancing alive in the future. She cites the Pacific Northwest Teen Competition as one promising model to involve young people, and suggests that a "Dirty Dancing" kind of movie focused on square dance competition would provide a boost. She also is excited by the new dance series…

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.

Sammy Spring - fiddler & square dance caller

Sammy Spring (1883–1958) was a fiddler and square dance caller from Otis, Massachusetts, in the western part of the state. This website includes photos of him and a lengthy interview conducted in 1939 by Edward Welch, a worker with the Federal Writers Project.

---excerpt from the 1939 interview:
“So you want to know how I come to take up…

Sandy Bradley 1 - Getting started

Sandy Bradley interviewed by Bob Dalsemer.

After a brief discussion of the fun of watching the room come together in a dance, Sandy discusses how she got started as a musician and then a square dance caller.

Recorded by Doug Plummer at Dare To Be Square, Seattle, 2009

Sandy Bradley 2 - Keeping it fun

"The thing that I thought was crippling people's attitude toward dance was rules. 'You have to do THIS, you have to swing like that, you have to get it right!'" It doesn't have anything to do with getting it right. I wanted to scrape all that burden off of it. So, I never tried to say, 'You have to do it like this.' If they did it some other way,…

Sandy Bradley 3 - Why'd you stop?

Sandy Bradley was a dynamic and exciting guitar player and caller who gave many northern dancers in the 1970s and early 1980s their first taste of fast-moving traditional western squares. She stopped calling and basically dropped out of the dance scene for several decades, and only recently started coming again to dances, as a musician. In this…

Tony Parkes 1 -
New England Squares

In this videotaped interview, caller Tony Parkes discusses the typical characteristics of northeastern traditional squares in general, and New England squares in particular.

Tony Parkes 2 - Quadrilles and Visiting Couple Squares

In this interview, caller Tony Parkes describes the basic structure of quadrilles, the 19th century dance form that set the pattern for traditional New England squares, and contrasts that with visiting couple squares. In a typical quadrille, head couples interact often with each other (and the same for sides with each other). In a visiting square,…

Tony Parkes 3 - Changes in New England squares

Caller Tony Parkes discusses some changes that took place in New England squares, particularly in the years after World War II as the modern square dance movement developed.