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Ozarks - Old Time Fiddling

Article about Ozark fiddling traditions, including a long section on fiddler Bob Holt, heard playing on videos elsewhere on this site.

Square Dancing at Maryland Line

Bob Dalsemer describes old time square dancing at the Maryland Line Fire Hall in the town of Maryland Line, MD as he encountered it in 1974.You may also be interested in a similar article describing four dances in East Tennessee, published in 1981.

The Independence (PA) Lancers

For moving images of the dance, click here.This is Bob Dalsemer's account of discovering an old dance form maintained in a rural Pennsylvania community:"On two occasions in 1979, I had the good fortune to visit the bi-weekly Saturday night square dance at the Grange Hall in Independence, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. I found…

Women Callers - article

Article presumably written by Bob Osgood, describing the challenges and opportunities for women square dance callers

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"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:…

Swing Your Partners! (1940 article)

Article published in 1940, profiling Lloyd Shaw and his Cheyenne Mountain Dancers.

"One of the most colorful and enthusiastic of the square dance revivalists is Dr. Lloyd Shaw, principal of the Cheyenne Mountain public school, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he has inspired into being twenty-five different square dance groups. Most of them…

Swing that Pretty Gal! - 1941 article

In the wake of the first trips by the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, this 1941 article inThe Saturday Evening Post describesthe widespread passion for squares that is growing, and gives Lloyd Shaw credit for the revival:
 Quoted material follows: Somewhere in your community there's a square dance tonight. At your country club, in a hotel ballroom,…

Square Dance and Square Dance Music in Western New York State

Two articles by the pre-eminent scholar of this region's traditional music and dance traditions, and included on the site with the permission of the author. Kimball discusses the history of dances in this region, looks at the dances themselves and their social context, and describes the music commonly played.

An excerpt:
"...As early as the…

MWSD - The First Ten Years

This article by Jim Mayo looks at the first ten years of what is usually called Modern Western Square Dancing. Jim traces the development of the activity in detail, citing specific callers and their influences, and illustrating his comments with links to audio files of live recordings made during the 1940s and 1950s.Jim is the author of Step by…

West Texans Do It Differently

In this 1949 article, caller Jimmy Clossin describes some of the distinguishing characteristics of west Texas square dance:

"Many people think when Western Square Dancing is mentioned that we have only one type in the West. That is not true. While there is a similarity between all western square dancing that would lead one not familiar with the…

The Afro-American Transformation of European Set Dances and Dance Suites

Scholarly article that looks at the way that European set dances such as the quadrille became changed by African Americans. The article looks in detail at the quadrille tradition in the Caribbean islands as well as on the US mainland:"It is well acknowledged that the court dances which developed in Europe from the seventeenth century onward spread…

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…

Rural Square Dances in East Tennessee: A Personal Account of Visits to Four Communities

This article appeared (1981) in the scholarly journal published by Country Dance and Song Society. The author describes four East Tennessee square dance communities, including discussion of typical program; he also includes verbatim transcripts of some of the calls. See also a similar account (1974) by Bob Dalsemer of dances in Maryland Line,…

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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…

Hoodoo Religion and American Dance Traditions: Rethinking the Ring Shout

Article by Katrina Hazzard-Donald looks at the relationship between African-American churches and traditional dance. As the article's summary puts it: "When one considers the history of American dance traditions one rarely thinks about its possible relationship to the local African American "Sanctified" or fundamentalist church described in works…

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…

Late Eighteenth-Century Social Dance (article)

Article that provides a summary of 18th century dance, including the contredanse française, a dance for four couples in a square. Also offers links to documents in the Library of Congress website of dance manuals.

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Nineteenth Century Social Dance (article)

Library of Congress overview of dance history, including links to specific books in their collection.

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