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.

News from Sound Archives: Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship Presentation

Susan Stenger, Appalachian Sound Archives FellowSusan Stenger will discuss her study in Berea’s Appalachian traditional music collections that is part of her work on composing a new work called An Untamed Sense of Control (in reference to eastern Kentucky banjoist, Roscoe Holcomb and his performance style, as described by Bob Dylan). An Untamed Sense of Control will be premiered in 2013/14, by The Kronos Quartet, a group noted for its commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet over many years.

The musical interests that have come together in Susan’s work include American folk, rock, and post-War experimental music. As a teenager she played in rock bands and then went on to classical flute studies in Prague and New York. She has toured the music of twentieth century composer John Cage, wrote songs, sang and played bass in Band of Susans. Most recently, she has been making sound installations and music for dance, film, and multimedia events.


Date: Friday February 8, 2013.

Time: 3:00pm

Location: Hutchins Library Room 106

Light refreshments will be served.

The Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship Program brings scholars, performers, composers, and educators to Berea to study in Hutchins Library’s Special Collections & Archives’ rich collection of non-commercial sound recordings.