Lunch at the Library: Square Dancing in the Kentucky Foothills

News from Special Collections and Archives. Posting by Harry Rice, Sound Archivist:

When: Thursday, June 26, 2014.

Time: 11:45am to 1:00pm

Location: Library Room 106

Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship scholar Susan Spalding will share what she has learned from her work documenting mid-1900s square dancing and clogging/flatfooting traditions in Berea and surrounding areas during that were distinct from the college’s traditional music and dance programs.

The picture that has emerged from her study in the Archives and interviews with local individuals is one of a thriving complex of community and home based dance activity that among other things included area dancers performing at Renfro Valley in the 1940s, children’s square dance teams in the 1950s, and street dances at the Berea Home-Coming during the 1950s and 1960s. Intermixed with these accounts are stories from Berea and other communities such as Estill County, about parades, music on the porch, family gatherings, honky-tonks, and long horseback rides over the mountain for a square dance.

Susan was a member of the Berea College Department of Physical Education and Health for fifteen years, and directed Dance Programs and Country Dancers.  She has been dancing in the Appalachian region for almost three decades, and has served as a consultant for the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and the Kentucky Folklife Festival. She co-edited the book Communities in Motion: Dance, Tradition and Community, edited the dance entries for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, and co-produced two Appalshop video documentaries on old-time dance. Her book Appalachian Dance: Creativity and Continuity in Six Communities is forthcoming from University of Illinois Press.

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