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Smoky Mountain Square Dances

Biographical information obtained from a telephone conversation between Bob Dalsemer and David Hendrix's son Charles, June 10, 1999. Charles had donated to the John C. Campbell Folk School a manuscript in progress that his father had started, an expanded version of Hendix's earlier book (1941) on Smoky Mountain Square Dances.David B. Hendrix…

Traditional Square Dance of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Detailed description of big set dances on Ocracoke Island, and an attempt in 1996 to re-create a dance tradition that had dies out. From the opening page:

"The Ocracoke Island square dance is actually a big circle dance, much like big circle dances performed in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. However, islanders…

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…

Appalachian Big Set - Berea- 1993

The Berea Festival Dancers, with caller Teresa Lowder, perform an Appalachian Big Set demonstration at the 1993 Mountain Folk Festival, Berea, Kentucky. The group is introduced by their director, John Ramsay; the dance itself begins about 1:15.

Figures include:
Little Side Door (lady round two and the gent cut through)
Mountain Do-Si-Do
Shoot…

Barn Dance - Wisconsin

This is video from an Old-time Barn Dance held in the O'Brien Farms beautifully refurbished barn in Brooklyn, WI. Music provided by the Ambrosia Dance Band (Chuck Hornemann, Paul Kienitz, Peter Gorman, Dave Batson with dance caller Mike Mossman).

The dances shown are mostly big sets, although some northern figures (ladies chain, balance and…

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…

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…

Big Set - Bob Dalsemer

Recorded at Dare To Be Square, Seattle, in 2009. For a more complete view of dances from the weekend, see the audio and video files posted here.

Big Set 1- Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison calls at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. This southern Appalachian dance kicked off the Friday night session of the weekend. Phil relies here on just two of the many figures that can be incorporated into that style, "right hand across" and "roll the barrel."…

Big Set 2 - Phil Jamison

Phil Jamison calls at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Figures included in this version include right hands across, Georgia Rang Tang, birdie in the cage, and make a basket (ladies bow, gents know how), Another example from the weekend of this big set formation can be found…

Big Set 3 - Phil Jamison

Recorded May 5, 2012, at the evening dance at Dare To Be Square, Riner, Virginia. Phil Jamison, of Asheville, NC, is the caller for this first dance of the program.

Musicians are Chance McCoy -- fiddle; Sebastian Zijp -guitar; Mac Traynham -- banjo; Frances West - first bass player; Andrew Norcross - second bass player.

Big Set square dance called by Phil Jamison

Phil Jamisonn calls at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Figures included in this version include right hands across, Georgia Rang Tang, birdie in the cage, and make a basket (ladies bow, gents know how).

Musicians are Steve Hickman and Jim Morrison, fiddles; Claudio…

Bob Dalsemer - demonstration of smooth transitions

Bob Dalsemer demonstrates how New Creek dancers move smoothly from swinging the opposite to a partner swing, and then out to join in one big circle. Recorded at Dare To Be Square, Seattle, in 2009. For a more complete view of dances from the weekend, see the audio and video files posted here.

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…

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…

Carcassonne big set, #1

This is an excellent example of traditional southern Appalachian big set square dance, recorded by John Ramsay in Carcassonne, Kentucky, September 19, 1991. ("Big set" is the name given by outsiders; locally it's just "square dance.") The tune is Liza Jane. The caller is Randall Caudill; he is the son of Clifton and Ruby Caudill; they hosted the…

Carcassonne big set, #2

This is another example of traditional southern Appalachian big set square dance, recorded by John Ramsay in Carcassonne, Kentucky, September 19, 1991. With relatively few examples on our site of this style of dancing, we have included the dance in its entirety. This one includes at least one figure not shown in #1, lady fall through the old side…

Dare To Be Square - Seattle, 2009

Dare To Be Square – Seattle, Washington, 2009Dare To Be Square is a weekend event celebrating square dancing in its many forms. North Carolina callers Nancy Mamlin and Phil Jamison created the event in 2003 and hosted the first few gatherings at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. Subsequent years saw similar events held in Portland, OR,…

Elizabeth Burchenal 2 - big set in field

Brief shot of Elizabeth Burchenal herself at the start; shots of musicians (guitar, 2 banjos, fiddle) at 2:51

Figures include:
Opposite turn by right hand; partner turn by left hand; swing opposite; swing partner

Lady round the lady and gent around the gent; gent around the lady and the lady round the gent

Women spin, men spin, all…

Elizabeth Burchenal 3 - big set demo

This appears to be a demonstration of various southern Appalachian big set figures. There are several shots of musicians scattered throughout.The film starts with the Georgia Rang Tang figure, also known by many other names: right hand turn opposite, left hand turn partner, right hand turn opposite, left hand turn partner, swing opposite, swing…