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A Tennessee Square Dance

Caller David Hendrix presents a overview of typical figures that he would use in a "square dance" in his region of East Tennessee.He notes that the dances in his region are related to the so-called Kentucky running set, although the style has changed over the years.

Appalachian Circle

A brief look at southern Appalachian circle dances. The author points out how unfamiliar four-couple squares would be to a dance from that region:---A native of the Appalachian Circle country which includes most of Southeastern United States, does indeed find the four couple set of the North and West and Southwest quite different from the home…

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…

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,…

Big circle dance - Manny Wiener & American Square Dance Group

Caller Manny Wiener leads a big circle dance—here introduced as a Kentucky running set—with members of Margot Mayo's American Square Dance Group. This is a portion of a half hour radio broadcast on WNYC in February, 1941, part of a series called "America Tells Its Stories." The program can be heard in its entirety here.The Related Items…

Swamp Country Dance

This is a first-person account of attending a country dance in Georgia in the mid-1950s. The author describes the big circle formation in detail:

"A single dance would go like this; The orchestra would give a fanfare, the couples would quickly assemble on the floor in one big circle with the Caller at the head of the circle, his back to the…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Old Time Square Dancing on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Author Bob Dalsemer discovers a long tradition of the "big circle" square dance on this island off the North Carolina coast, far from the Appalachian Mountains where it is usually encountered.

Oh Johnny - Lester Bradley

In modern square dance programs, squares are often intermingled with round dances. Similarly, traditional dance programs often involve a variety of dances other than squares—waltz, polka, schottische, mixers, novelty dances are a few examples.This is a circle mixer. Lester Bradley (caller and guitar) with Paul Amey, fiddle, joined by other…

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…

John Bill Allen - Big set, Berea, 1975

Note: The first minute of the video has garbled sound, but then it clears up.

Notes from John Ramsay: Documentary of local square dancing in Berea, Kentucky circa 1975. The caller, John Bill Allen, had been a member of the College's original Folk Club. He graduated in 1936. The dancers included quite a few Berea College students, some faculty,…

Shoo-Fly Swing and La Boulangère

Compilation of sources that reveal the similarity between La Boulangère, a European dance around 1800 and the only dance mentioned by name by Jane Austen, and the Shoo-Fly Swing, its American descendant found as the closing figure of a big set dance.

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,…

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 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."…