Show Menu

Browse Items: 24

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 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.

Eleanor Roosevelt square dancing

Newsreel footage of Eleanor Roosevelt dancing in Arthurdale, West Virginia, 1940

Southern Appalachian Squares 0 - Sampler - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. This samples provides excerpts of the dances presented in that workshop. You will be able to find teaching and a longer dance clip of each dance in related videos elsewhere on this site.

00:00 Big Set…

The Shuffle - 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. Phil described this simple figure as a common dance from the area around Mount Airy, NC, and Galax, VA.

This was recorded at Dare To Be Square on November 19, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk…

From Our House to the White House

Note: The video cannot be played in this window. Click on the title link above. From that website, click on the link to the actual movie. It's the third item in the right-hand column, under The Arts Collection.As of June 2013, the video has been removed "for budgetary reasons" from its host site.From Our House to the White HouseThis half-hour…

Bill Martin - Oregon Public Broadcast TV

Broadcast in 2003, this public television documentary profiles caller Bill Martin and the old-time southern Appalachian music and dance scene in Portland, Oregon. Bill is widely credited with creating a vibrant community, encouraging musicians and mentoring younger callers, here seen working with Caroline Oakley. The influence of this Portland…

"Barn Dances with Calls"

Article published in The Old-Time Herald (Volume 7, Number 8) discussing what can be learned from a careful study of old dance records. Includes a discography.

Kathy Anderson - four styles of squares

Caller Kathy Anderson gives an overview of the characteristics of four different regional styles of traditional square dances-- old-time Southern, New England, traditional Western, and singing squares.

Bob Dalsemer - West Virginia dances

This is audio only; it's part of Bob Dalsemer's introduction to his workshop introducing different dance styles from West Virginia. Despite its small size, there are different square dance styles in that state. Elkins-- home of the Augusta Dance Festival-- is about the borderline, with dances to the west generally four-couple squares and to the…

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…

West Virginia Square Dances by Robert G. Dalsemer

Dalsemer describes dance figures as done in five rural West Virginia communities in the mid- to late 1970s and reports on their regular dance events, including programming, type of audience, price and method of admission, and the traditions of figure calling and musical performance. He discusses the history of each dance event and their on-going…

"Dancing to the Music: Domestic Square Dances and Community in Southcentral Kentucky (1880-1940)"

This detailed examination of the role of square dances in south central Kentucky is written by a folklorist, who based his findings on interviews with 20 musicians, dancers, and callers in that region. (Another look at Kentucky dancing, by researcher LeeEllen Friedland in the late 1970s, can be found here.)In his introduction, Feintuch writes:…

Mountain Dance Trail - West Virginia

Created by folklorists Gerry Milnes and Becky Hill at Davis & Elkins College in Augusta, West Virginia, the Mountain Dance Trail is a statewide effort to support local square customs. The project received a lengthy article in the New York Times, which included a slideshow and video of dancing on its website, and a story (September 5, 2013) on…

"Folk Dances of the United States: Regional Types and Origins"

Scholarly presentation by noted dance researcher Elizabeth Burchenal and published in the Journal of the International Folk Music Council. Burchenal begins her talk thus:

"The term "folk dance" as used here does not refer to "popular dance" or to "revivals" but rather to "authentic" folk dance as a folk art which has been handed down through the…

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…

New Squares - video and web links

Recent years have seen the appearance of a new audience for square dances. One important starting point was a series of dances in the Portland, Oregon, area, led by caller Bill Martin and the Foghorn Stringband. Those dances featured old-time southern Appalachian tunes and high-energy, simple dances, often big sets. A similar pattern has emerged in…

Square Dance History Pageant, part 1 - 1976

The 25th annual National Square Dance Convention took place in 1976, the year of the United State Bicentennial Celebration. A historical pageant at the convention features a series of dances illustrating American social dance through time, with a particular focus on squares. This was an edited version of that presentation.

Soco Gap Dancers at the White House

This is the program for the evening entertainment provided for the visiting King and Queen of England at the White House, Thursday, June 8, 1939. Among the performers (see page 5) were the Soco Gap Square-Dance Team, directed by Sam Queen and presented by Bascom Lamar Lunsford.

Eleanor Roosevelt was interested in traditional dance, witness her…

Old-Time Revival: Traditional Appalachian Square Dancing Slowly Refinds its Footing in Knoxville

Reprinted by permission of Metro Pulse and Holly Haworth, © 2013 This well-written and lengthy article (available as a PDF through the link above or on its original website posting) captures the feeling of many of the new dance series spring up that feature southern Appalachian tunes and dances.