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Fiddlin' and Square Dancing Are Back

Newspaper article (1971) written by caller Betty Casey, describing the start of the Green Grass Cloggers.Percussive clogging in choreographed routines had been made popular at the Mountain Dance and Music Festival started by Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1928. The Green Grass Cloggers, a group of young dancers coming from the counterculture of the…

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…

Eleanor Roosevelt square dancing

Newsreel footage of Eleanor Roosevelt dancing in Arthurdale, West Virginia, 1940

"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:…

Calendar - Traditional and Old-Time Square Dances

This calendar is a subsection of a detailed and well-maintained website that lists dances around the country.

"The Square Dance" - David Hendrix, 1951

East Tennessee caller D. B., Hendrix provides a general introduction to square dancing. He writes, "Square dancing is easy to learn. Anyone who can march or keep time to music can learn it. in nearly every community there is at least one person who can call square dances to some degree. Form a square dance group in your community. Eight couples are…

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…

"Folk Dances of the United States: Regional Types and Origins"

Scholarly presentation by noted dance researcher Elizabeth Burchenal and published in the Journal of the International Folk Music Council. Burchenal begins her talk thus:

"The term "folk dance" as used here does not refer to "popular dance" or to "revivals" but rather to "authentic" folk dance as a folk art which has been handed down through the…

The Slave Roots of Square Dancing

This is an easily-read summary of a scholarly article by Phil Jamison on the African-American roots of southern Appalachian dance and, in particular, the pivotal role played by African-American musicians and callers. The summary notes, "Today, few people know about the pivotal role black people once played in helping develop American dance…

Cherokee Indian Circle Dance - Indian style?

Where does the square dance call "Indian style" originate? This description of a Cherokee dance, published in 1947, offers interesting possibilities. It comes from a booklet authored by two individuals connected with the "World of Fun" program, created in 1947 by folk dance teacher Michael Herman for the Methodist Church.In his 2015 book, Hoedowns,…

Old-Time Revival: Traditional Appalachian Square Dancing Slowly Refinds its Footing in Knoxville

Reprinted by permission of Metro Pulse and Holly Haworth, © 2013 This well-written and lengthy article (available as a PDF through the link above or in an archived version of the original website captures the feeling of many of the new dance series spring up that feature southern Appalachian tunes and dances.

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…

Finding List of Southeastern Square Dance Figures

Author J. Olcutt Sanders embarked on a serious effort to track down examples in other regions of square dance figures found in the Southeastern United States. He devised a shorthand method of categorizing figures, and his work is a useful reference from 1942. Sanders summarizes his work thus:

"Despite search in many of the major libraries of the…

New Squares - video and web links

Recent years have seen the appearance of a new audience for square dances. One important starting point was a series of dances in the Portland, Oregon, area, led by caller Bill Martin and the Foghorn Stringband. Those dances featured old-time southern Appalachian tunes and high-energy, simple dances, often big sets. A similar pattern has emerged in…

Square Dance Fight on Ball Top Mountain

Phil Jamison: These are square dance skits on two sides of a 78 (Vocalion 5419) with a few random calls by John Dilleshaw (aka Seven Foot Dilly) of Paulding County, GA. It was recorded in Atlanta in 1930. The "Square Dance Fight" was one of many dance skits that were recorded in the late 20s and early 30s. Most of them simply have a few calls for…

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…

Kathy Anderson - four styles of squares

Caller Kathy Anderson gives an overview of the characteristics of four different regional styles of traditional square dances-- old-time Southern, New England, traditional Western, and singing squares.

From Our House to the White House

Note: The video cannot be played in this window. Click on the title link above. From that website, click on the link to the actual movie. It's the third item in the right-hand column, under The Arts Collection.As of June 2013, the video has been removed "for budgetary reasons" from its host site.From Our House to the White HouseThis half-hour…

Bill Martin - Oregon Public Broadcast TV

Broadcast in 2003, this public television documentary profiles caller Bill Martin and the old-time southern Appalachian music and dance scene in Portland, Oregon. Bill is widely credited with creating a vibrant community, encouraging musicians and mentoring younger callers, here seen working with Caroline Oakley. The influence of this Portland…

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…