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Kentucky Set Running - 1914 firsthand account

After graduation from Vassar and a summer holiday with family, Marguerite Butler, at age 22, headed for Pine Mountain Settlement School in a remote area of eastern Kentucky to try to make some satisfactory contribution to a 1914 world where few such opportunities were allowed for women. A few nights after her arrival at the school, folks gathered…

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…

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…

Audience Cheers Cheyenne Dancers (newspaper)

This newspaper account describes the enthusiastic reception given the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers when they performed at Swarthmore College (PA). This was the second stop on the dancers' inaugural trip east; they first appeared at the National Folk Festival in Washington, DC, before heading north to Swarthmore, New York University, Bennington…

Roscommon Lancers - Irish set

Chris J. Brady writes: How about the Roscommon Lancers - with an embellished 'rant' step termed 'battering' in Ireland. Wonderful stuff.There are nine figures (aka square dances) in the Roscommon Lancers and with no caller in sight. There's no need for a caller when everyone knows the set and there are no wishes to change any of the…

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…

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…

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…

Set Running - Berea Country Dancers

In a voiceover at the start of the clip, the group's director, John Ramsay, speaks about the history of the dance and share some of his philosophy about dance bringing people together.Other "set running" resources on this site include Stew Shacklette talking about the dance's history and providing more detailed instruction and demonstration.

Square dancing, Berea, KY - c. 1950 style

The footage was taken and posted by John Ramsay, who writes: "The Jackson family in Berea, Kentucky got a group together to demonstrate the type of square dancing which was danced by local citizens around 1950. I shot the footage at the Jackson home in Berea sometime between 1974-1976. The three daughters begin by step dancing/ hoedown/ clogging.…

Bill Litchman - Rocky Mountain Square Dancing

(To open the PDF document, click on the underlined link to the right.)This overview of square dance history focuses on two major groups of square dance. One group (northern, Eastern, Maritime, etc.) relies on quadrille-style figures, with couples interacting across the set; this style is prompted like a contra. The second form is found in the…