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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.

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.

Jim Mayo 6 - Key Elements of Modern Square Dance

Jim discusses features that make modern square dancing different from traditional squares, including the unpredictable nature of the calls, the necessity for lessons, and the club structure that provides an important social element.

Jim Mayo 5 - Basic Formations, Complex Calls

Jim points out that there are only a few basic formations in modern square dancing. One of the distinctive features of modern squares is the way that a series of basic moves are combined into one call. Swing Thru was an early example of this; Ed Gilmore objected to that term, saying that he could call the moves using more basic terminology. Later…

Jim Mayo 4 - New choreography

New calls such as Wheel and Deal and Swing Thru gave modern square dance callers powerful tools for creating new choreography and patterns of movement. Callers discovered that the sequence "Wheel and Deal, Double Pass Thru, Centers In, and Cast Off 3/4," repeated three times, would get all dancers back where they had started—a triple zero, which…

Jim Mayo 3 - Start of CALLERLAB

The 1970s saw a dramatic increase in the number of calls, which led to repeated cries from dancers for someone to bring order out of chaos. This led to the formation of CALLERLAB.

Jim Mayo 2 - Square Thru and Changing Choreography

The call "square through" provided callers with a new tool for moving dancers around on the dance floor. Jim describes how callers experimented with the figure and how he introduced it in many different setups in his classes.

Jim Mayo 1 - Early Years of Modern Square Dance

Jim discusses his own introduction to modern squares with caller Al Brundage in 1949. He talks about the early development of modern, showing how this new activity began to separate from its traditional roots.

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 1: Southern Appalachian Dance

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

Bob Dalsemer 4: How do you choose what dances to teach?

Caller Bob Dalsemer discusses some of the choices he makes in deciding what kind of squares to include in a dance program. What kind of music is available? Who are the dancers and what are they expecting? What material have I already introduced in the program on which I can build?

Bob Dalsemer 3: Traditional Dance is a Polished Rock

Bob Dalsemer discusses how a traditional dance, done in a community over time, becomes a sort of gem, all the essence and no frills.