Mountain Folk Festival

73rd Mountain Folk Festival, March 20 and 21, 2009

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73rd Mountain Folk Festival, March 20 and 21, 2009
The 73rd Annual MOUNTAIN FOLK FESTIVAL will take place at Berea College on March 20 and 21, 2009 at Seabury Center, Berea College, with events for both registered participants and the public.The MOUNTAIN FOLK FESTIVAL celebrates young people dancing and learning to dance.  Started as part of the outreach programs of Berea College, the Festival has trained both dancers and dance leaders who have carried on the cultural folk traditions of the area.  Traditional music and dance from the British Isles, Denmark, and Appalachia are taught to children from the fourth grade through high school.  Groups who have been learning these dances at school and in community groups come together to share what they have learned and learn new dances.

The Festival starts Friday, with a day of practicing dances already learned, learning new dances and songs, and ends with an evening dance called by internationally acclaimed caller Bob Dalsemer.  Classes continue on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, there will be a show of dances learned in special Festival workshops as well as a traditional celebration of English seasonal display dances called Morris dances, where dancers wear colorful costumes, including flowers, bells and ribbons.  They dance with sticks, swords, replicas of English church warden’s “baccy” pipes, and sometimes in specially made English wooden-soled clogs.  Berea musicians Al and Alice White, and Atossa Kramer provide live music.  The public is encouraged to come and enjoy this spectacle.

The musicians and dancers then lead a processional, or parade dance, where the group welcomes the coming spring season in a centuries-old “dancing in the branches of May” with a dance called “The Beginning of the World.”

Internationally known dancer, dance musician, teacher and author of many books about traditional dancing BOB DALSEMER, serves as the featured teacher and caller for the MOUNTAIN FOLK FESTIVAL.  Bob is the Coordinator of Music and Dance Programs at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC, and former President of the Country Dance and Song Society of America.   With more than 25 years of calling experience, an easy going manner, and exceptional teaching skills, Bob is one of the country’s most popular traditional dance callers.  His repertoire of dances includes a wide range of American contras, squares and circles as well as English and Danish dances.

Co-director of the Festival is Berea recording artist and dance teacher, Jennifer Rose.  Jennifer grew up with the traditions of the Mountain Folk Festival and is a talented and energetic performer who makes these songs and dances available to new generations.  Also co-directing is Pamela Corley-Slowkowski, ritual dance coach of the Berea College Country Dancers and founder of several seasonal display dance groups in Berea.

The MOUNTAIN FOLK FESTIVAL was started in 1935 as part of Berea College’s outreach to the young people of the mountains.  An article in the January 1935 MOUNTAIN LIFE AND WORK magazine, which was published in Berea for many years by the Council of the Southern Mountains, tells of plans:

“Our first mountain folk festival will…be a festival of folk games, folk songs and folk plays.  Berea was chosen because…we turn to Berea as a sort of mother of mountain schools.  The festival is primarily for the joy of sharing and passing on such folk material …One of the great reasons for the occasion, however, is the joy which comes from doing games together.”

Groups came from Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio, from the many Settlement School and church recreational services.  Students were housed in the dorms for 25 cents per night, and the leaders could get a room at the Tavern for $1 a night, three in a room.

Author of the article, Marguerite Butler, the first chairperson of the Festival, ends the article:
“Perhaps in some ways this will be a unique festival, as there will be no competition, no judging, no prizes, no banners, no votes for the best.  We come together for the joy of sharing with each other the rich store of the folk material which has come down to us through the ages.”
The public is warmly invited to watch a new generation of dancers, singers and musicians share the joy of this folk material.  The Morris Tour will take place in Seabury Center, Old Gym, at 6:15.  The Gala Dance with caller Bob Dalsemer will follow.  Both events are free and open to the public.

For more information, please call Laura Magner at 859-985-3431 or check out the Mountain Folk Festival.
Laura Magner, Administrative Assistant for Physical Education, Health, and Dance Programs


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