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Origin of Appalachian Square Dance

Thurston rejects the notion that Appalachian squares did not originate from American Indian dances nor were they independently created. He concludes that they came from Europe, particular from the British Isles and even more particularly from Ireland. He demonstrates a strong connection between the structure of typical Appalachian squares with that…

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…

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…

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…

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.