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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.

"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:…

Square dance - Ary, KY - 1963 (big set)

The caller is Corbett Grigsby, with music provided by fiddler Marion Sumner and guitarists Martin Young and Roscoe Holcomb. Grigsby introduces the figure as "around behind, lady in the lead."This footage was recorded by filmmaker George Pickow at the Home Place Community Center in Ary, Kentucky, a small town in south central Kentucky. (Ary is about…

Square Dance - Ary, KY - 1963 (4 cpl square)

see previous item A search for "Grapevine Twist" in this project's digital collection will return references, audio clips, and video clips showing that figure, including Elizabeth Burchenal's silent footage from the 1930s.

Kentucky Square Dances

An early (1928) collection of figures collected "from callers in Kentucky who are familiar with the old square dances as they are danced in the Kentucky Mountains and elsewhere in the state."

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.…

Kentuckiana Squares and Rounds

View full record for details.

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…

Kentucky Square Dance

The author describes in general terms what he prefers to call the Kentucky Square Dance:"The Kentucky Square Dance (Sharp’s original “running set”) is a four couple square formation type dance characterized by a slow running shuffle step, a tempo which averages 150 beats per minute, and a rather definite order of introduction and…

Kentucky Set Running - 1917 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…

Old Side Door: A Kentucky Mountain Dance

Article by Patrick E. Napier, originally published in 1949, describing a Kentucky dance figure and its setting.

Set Runnin' in Eastern Kentucky

Description from 1949 by Patrick Napier of traditional square dances in eastern Kentucky.

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…

Eastern Kentucky Folk Dancing Oral History Project

This is a collection of recorded interviews that document the development of
traditional square and related dance activity in southeastern Kentucky. The interviews were with mostly elderly residents of Harlan, Letcher, and Leslie Counties and were recorded by Peter Rogers in 1975.

At the moment (July 2016) the audio files and transcriptions…

Cecil Sharp at Pine Mountain Settlement School

Cecil Sharp first encountered southern Appalachian dancing at the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Kentucky on August 31, 1917. (See here for Sharp's notes that day in his diary.) The event became the focal point of Part 5 of Sharp's Country Dance Book series.That visit is recalled here, in the 1919 Notes from the school.A detailed account of the…

Square Dancing in the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky

NOTE: To read the actual booklet, choose the links above. Numbers 1 & 3 are large files and, depending on your internet speed, might take a while to load. This 1971 collection begins with a somewhat romanticized introduction to dancing in the region. Dance descriptions include figures for the Kentucky Running Set and the Big Set, as well as…

Square Dancing in the Kentucky Foothills

Based in extensive interviews, audio files and video recordings, the author has compiled a detailed look at dancing in the area around Berea, Kentucky. Her introduction provides a broad look at the topic:

"In Berea and surrounding counties, square dancing, the type done in a big circle that divides into smaller “squares” of two couples,…

Susan Spalding Appalachian Traditional Dance Video Collection, 1988-2002

This collection consists of video recordings of interviews and community dance activities in eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and east Tennessee recorded at various times, 1988-2002.

The videos were recorded as fieldwork by Susan Elke Spalding; many of them are the source files for the film "Step Back Cindy." The footage includes interviews…

Big Circle Dance from Carcassonne, KY - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. In this video, Phil introduces the big set formation danced in Carcassonne, Kentucky; an accompanying video shows actual dance footage.This was recorded at Dare To Be Square on November 19, 2011, at the…

Carcassonne big set - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison led a workshop session on square dances from the southern Appalachians, focusing on dances from different communities in that region. Carcassonne, Kentucky, still hosts a regular traditional dance series, and these figures are typical of dances there. In this big circle formation, Phil calls two figures-- four leaf clover and lady…