Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A Great Circle Of Dance

My life in appalachia the circle of dance

Last weekend, me and the girls made our annual trek to Berea, Kentucky to participate in Mountain Folk Festival. The weeks leading up to the festival were filled with learning the dances which had been chosen for this year’s festival and anticipation for the trip.

While we were preparing for our trip, a three part blog written by Rooney Floyd was being shared on the John C. Campbell Folk School Blog. Rooney’s story centers around replacing a star medallion that was original to the Oscar Cantrell Blacksmith Shop. I won’t go deep into the details of Rooney’s writings-but it’s a fascinating story of history that happened right here in Brasstown at the folk school. (the links to all 3 parts are at the bottom of this post)

In the 3rd part of Rooney’s article-Berea and the Mountain Folk Festival popped up when Rooney said this:

The Folk School Newsletter #16 dated December, 1933. In it, Marguerite had included a letter from the Berea staff thanking her and the School for bring the “singing games”, as she called folk dancing, to Berea. The letter stated, “The seed you have sown is bearing rich fruit. In some dances we have had 60-75 participants. I would say that Berea is thoroughly inoculated now.” Georg and Marguerite, with community and student dancers had been asked to come and help start a similar program to the Folk School’s at Berea. In 1933, this idea of the Folk School taking the dancing program to Berea was well known but has long since been lost to modern generations, especially since Berea’s Mountain Folk Festival, begun in 1936, celebrated its 75 anniversary in 2011. Bob Dalsemer will take the Brasstown contingent over to Berea next week, as he has for many years, for the 77th festival.

I visualize this great circle of a well designed folk music and dance program at the Folk School going to Berea where it proliferated and many years later, drew Bob to his life work. Eventually he landed at the Folk School where he received the field’s highest award. To keep the momentum going, he returns Brasstown dancers to Berea each year as they have for over 80 years.

As you can see from the photo above-that great circle of dance between Brasstown and Berea is still going strong-and even better the circle has curved out in all directions. I never fail to get teary eyed when I sit on the sidelines in Seabury Gym and watch kids dance the traditional dances that have been danced all over Appalachia for generations.


p.s. I’ll have a video from the festival to share with you in a few days. Please check out the links below to read Rooney’s complete blog.

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    RB Redmond
    April 26, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    We use to do folk dancing in high school, and it was fun.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    The art of dance didn’t seem to rouse a lot of interest today. I, being left handed and left footed, never was able to adapt to the rules that govern there. To me left is right and right feels wrong. So when caller said right I went wrong and everybody had to start over. That makes me mostly an observer. I realize Chitter is a lefty also but it doesn’t seem to let it effect her in the least. Some of us are not that lucky (or is the word tenacious.) Anyway I am looking at a video from Berea to see if the girls have progressed in their dance as much as in their music.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I agree with Miss Cindy, this is truly Appalachia at its finest! So very proud of Brasstown and Berea for carrying on such a wonderful tradition!

  • Reply
    April 25, 2013 at 11:21 am

    You are one of a kind! Without all
    this knowledge of our history and
    culture of Appalachia, through the Blind Pig mostly, we wouldn’t know very much. Thank you for sharing.
    Look forward to the videos…Ken

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    April 25, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I am looking forward to the video from this years visit to Berea.
    Thru your blog, I now know some of the history between the Campbell school and Berea.
    Thanks for the links, and history and encouraging your daughters in Appalachian Dance and Music…
    Thanks Tipper,
    Have a sunny day, but with a little nip in the air here today.
    Might plant a few flowers. Planted sunflowers by the chicken run fence…Hope it don’t drive them crazy and hope they really grow to 14 or more feet!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 25, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I see Chitter, Chatter, and the boots in the picture. I look forward to seeing the videos.
    Circle of dance, what a beautiful story. I read all three of the schools posts. It is amazing how things unfold. The new star is beautiful. I’ll look for it the next time I’m over there.
    Doesn’t it make the whole experience richer to know the history. This is Appalachia at it’s finest!!

  • Reply
    Dan McCarter
    April 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Berea is the college I wish that I had graduated at

  • Reply
    April 25, 2013 at 7:59 am

    One of these days I plan to see some of the wonderful happenings in your area. I remember doing square dancing, but only when I went with the school to a week of living in the woods. Such great fun!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 25, 2013 at 7:17 am

    A great tradition

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