Choreography: Hilary Roberts
Instrumental Music: Traditional - "Julianne Johnson", "Spotted Pony", "Kiowa Special", "George Booker"
With its foundations in Irish and English step dancing, Appalachian Clogging is a subtle combination of European, African, and Native American dance elements. The resulting blend is a high-spirited demonstration of precision footwork and complex traditional patterns.
Choreography: Erik Hoffman
Instrumental Music: Traditional - "Flop Eared Mule", "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss"
The square dance is a form developed in early New England communities, combining elements of English Morris dances and contra dances, the French quadrille, Irish country dances, and African dance. The "caller" is America's only unique contribution to the square dance: as the dance evolved increasingly complex patterns, a caller gave cues to the steps and formations. This piece shows the dynamic form of square dancing that evolved in the 1950s, with formations like the "Harlem rosette" and the "teacup chain.”
EAST TEXAS KNOCKDOWN
Choreography: Neal Sandler and Hilary Roberts
Song & Instrumental Music: Traditional - "Old Plank Road"
Vocal Arrangement by Suzanne Leonora
On to the taverns of East Texas! The 1930’s is the setting for this raucous dance where men and women, spurred on by local string band musicians, take turns showing off their favorite steps in good-natured competition. The town “fool,” who opens the dance, is affectionately tolerated by the townsfolk because she reminds everyone of life’s absurdities. Despite her clownish nature, the fool is the leader of the whole dance. With her encouragement, the energy builds as dancers vie for center stage until the entire tavern is up and dancing! They’ll dance and dance until they are so beat that they feel “knocked down.”
LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS
Choreography: Rebecca Coulter
Song & Instrumental Music: Traditional - "Money Musk", "Old Dan Tucker", "Arkansas Traveler", "Devil's Dream", "Irish Washerwoman", "Lover's Waltz" (Unger & Mason)
Inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic story of life on the American Frontier, "The Little House in the Big Woods", this piece features dancing that would be found at a house party in the mid-1800's. There are English country dance influences in the opening dance, Money Musk with simple walking, curtsies and bows, then, a little step dancing/clogging as the dance pace quickens. Arkansas Traveler, a lively circle dance first mentioned in the 19th century, adds a bit of English country and polka to stylized western/pioneer dance. The fourth dance, Virginia Reel, to the song Devil’s Dream, links back to English and possibly Scottish country dance. The Lover's Waltz includes some Czech and Austrian influences, some English formations - the "hey", done by 4 people in a weaving pattern, and more modern ballroom steps such as the "whisk". The clothing set the piece in the 1860s, with hoop skirts of 1800s crinoline inspired by open-cage styles of 16th to 17th-century farthingale and 18th-century pannier. Shortened dresses and tight pants allowed freedom of movement for popular dances of those days—the quadrille, cotillion, and reel.
KENTUCKY RUNNING SETS
Choreography: Hilary Roberts
Instrumental Music: Traditional - "Mississippi Sawyer", "Goodbye Liza Jane", "Kitchen Girl", "Little Liza Jane"
Up next, grab a partner and circle south! Kentucky Running Sets, a direct descendant of a dance form that existed in England prior to 1650, is the earliest of all American Western dances. Starting with the traditional European steps, the settlers picked up the pace to a running stride. A caller was added to the dance, yelling out playful rhymes to communicate the next figures, while the dancers added their own hoots and hollers to stir up the excitement. Having been danced in isolation in the Appalachian Mountains for generations, these Running Sets were brought to light by English dance scholar Cecil Sharp in 1917.
Choreography: Frankie Manning, Christine Sampson, Julie Ann Keller, Hilary Roberts, Yael Schy
Songs & Instrumental Music: "Jukebox Saturday Night" (Stillman & McGrane), "Tuxedo Junction" (Hawkins, Johnson & Dash), "Wolverine Blues" (Jelly Roll Morton), "Posin' "(Cahn & Chaplin)
This joint is jumpin’! By the time America reached the 1940’s, all across the country’s dance floors young people were swinging out to Big Band sounds, showing off with Shim Sham Shimmy, Black Bottom, Posin’, Charleston, and Lindy Hop. These were dances introduced in earlier decades by the Black communities, emerging from the Southern juke joints and Harlem night clubs, eventually exploding into a national obsession. This suite takes you right into the dance halls where folks are strutting their stuff in a show of jazz moves, where fun and flirting is all the rage.
Choreography: Rebecca Coulter
Song: Traditional - "Cluck Old Hen"
Set as a playful clogging piece that includes some hide & seek and the bunny hop, this clogging dance is short, sweet and named for Becky's grandmother Daisy, who always encouraged her artistic pursuits.
A NIGHT AT THE OPRY
Choreography: Rebecca Coulter, George Frandsen
Music: Traditional - "Boil the Cabbage Down", "Blackberry Blossom"
Appalachian Clogging as it might have looked on the stage of the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, TN in the 1950's. Wearing 50's square dance costumes and performing with a bit more precision than traditional "buck dancing", the formations and steps change throughout the dance, with a high-speed a capella finale.
Choreography: Mark Anderson, Erik Hoffman and Mark Ryken
When the slave laws of 1740 forbade the African slaves to beat drums or play musical instruments, their spirit could not be broken. In their resourcefulness, they used hand claps, foot beats, and body slaps to make music. Hambone, a display of percussive rhythms in which the human body is the instrument, is a precursor to many American dances such as clogging, tap, and step.
DANCES FROM CAJUN COUNTRY
Choreography: Jerry Duke
Staging: Hilary Roberts
Instrumental Music: Traditional - "Festival Waltz", "Fais Do-Do", "Colinda", "Port Arthur Blues ", "Acadian Two-Step", "Madeleine"
The Cajuns came to Louisiana by a circuitous route. They are descendants of French immigrants who settled in Nova Scotia and became known as Acadians. In 1755 they were ousted from their settlements by the British and headed to Louisiana, which was rumored to be more welcoming to French Catholics than the northern colonies. They ended up in back country around Lafayette, where they established a distinctive culture, filled with Creole, Spanish, African, Caribbean, English, German, and Native American influences. This suite is set in the 1940’s and, through a rich weaving of song and dance, tells of Cajun rituals and customs that flourished in the local dance halls. The traditional songs, Cajun Waltz, and Contra provide a way to renew old ties, make new friends, and affirm the community’s identity. Then, to warm up the party, the band strikes up the fast-paced Two Step with its twists and turns that are quintessentially Cajun.
A PLAY PARTY IN APPALACHIA
Choreography: Rebecca Coulter
Music: Traditional - "Goin' to Boston", "Old Plank Road"
Play parties began in the 1830s in the United States as a route around strict religious practices banning dancing and the playing of musical instruments. Folk songs, many of European and English origin, were used as means to give those attending choreographed movements for each phrase. No instruments were played at the events, as they were banned by the religious movements of the area. Singing and clapping were used to convey each song. Because dancing was banned, the movements took on the quality of children's games.
Our version of "Goin' to Boston" does incorporate music, since we don't have those restrictions today! In this suite, we start with Goin' to Boston, move into Running a Set, and conclude with an East Texas Knockdown.
The costumes are traditional vintage mid-1800’s daytime dress. Women wear hoop skirts, men wear workday shirts and pants with suspenders. Old time fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin tunes are the toe-tapping inspiration for stepping lively and swinging partners round.
JUBILEE AMERICAN BAND
Music Director: Joe Weed
Instrumental Music: Traditional
In a musical display of hard-driving Old Time tunes, Swing Era sounds, Bluegrass breakdowns, Cowboy Swing that’ll have you hopping, Cajun Country tunes and more, the Jubilee American Band, takes you on a romping tour of the United States! With a cadre of talented musicians in their own right, playing instruments such as fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, accordion, clarinet, sax, bass, and drums, they are what makes the dancers’ feet do their thing and what will have you out of your seats stomping and clapping to the tunes that have made this melting-pot called America so great.