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Larry Edelman 1: Social Context of Square Dancing

What role does an evening of dancing play in the lives of the people who live in that community? Caller Larry Edelman discusses the social context in which the dancing takes place in traditional dance communities.

Larry Edelman 2: Links in a Chain

Larry Edelman discusses his experiences studying traditional dances in southwestern Pennsylvania; in particular, he ended up studying with caller Jerry Goodwin. Larry began to appreciate how dancers and callers and musicians are links in a chain, keeping alive rich traditions from the past and passing them on to the future.

Larry Edelman 3: Grange Hall Dances & Fire Hall Dances

Larry Edelman discusses the difference between two different traditional dance venues, based on his research in small town dances in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Larry Edelman 4: Influences on a Dance Series

What are some of the influences that affect a traditional community dance? Larry bases his comments on his research in southwestern Pennsylvania, a region that has been influenced by both southern Appalachian and northern dance styles.

Bob Dalsemer 1: Structure of Dance Programs in Traditional Series

Caller Bob Dalsemer describes his experiences in traditional dance communities. Each community may have just a few break figures that appear in all dances, which means that callers can program a lot of dances in an evening without much instruction. He contrasts that with the squares called in contemporary contra dance communities, for example,…

Bob Dalsemer 2: How Callers Use Dance Structure

Caller Bob Dalsemer discusses ways that square dance callers can present basic figures in different variations, provided that they understand the basic structure of a given dance. This gives the caller flexibility in shaping a program to fit a particular audience.

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.

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?

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 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…

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.

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 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 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 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.

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.

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.

Auctioneer (description and history)

The Auctioneer by David Millstone July, 2012 The Auctioneer is Ralph Sweet's signature number, and the dance has a storied history before him. The Auctioneer song was a 1956 hit, selling 2.5 million copies for for Leroy Van Dyke and catapaulting him to country music fame. (Here he is singing it on a 1962 television show.) Two years later,…

Auctioneer - Ralph Sweet

Recorded at the Greenfield, MA, Grange Hall on June 27, 2010. The event was sponsored by Country Dance and Song Society to celebrate the publication of "On the Beat with Ralph Sweet." This dance is one of Ralph's signature numbers, and directions and music are in his book, available from CDSS store.The musicians are the band Elixir (Ethan…

Old Grey Bonnet - Jim Mayo

Listen to Charley Thomas calling this song.