Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 29: DANCE


TAGS: dance; dancing; Kentucky Running Set; Cecil Sharp; Maude Karples; Abby Winch Christian; Dorothy Bolles; Dorothy Nace; English Folk Dance & Song Society; Country Dance and Song Society

Baca Pipes dance on the Dancing Green, late 1930s. [burkh_005.jpg]

Dance at Pine Mountain Settlement School and its surrounding community is a most remarkable legacy. It has been explored from many different perspectives including a deep dive into the European origins of dance forms as well as debate at the local community level regarding the conflict of dance with religious beliefs and at the educational level regarding its merits. The origins of Appalachian dance forms have been assigned to France, to England, to Germany and a myriad of other nations. Importantly, according to Cecil Sharp, the noted British folklorist and founder of the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDS), Pine Mountain has contributed its own unique dance form, the Kentucky Running Set. 

In addition to Cecil Sharp and his co-worker, Maude Karples, there is a long chain of individuals who have looked to Pine Mountain as a central location for English Country Dancing in the Southeastern United States. The School has a long history with the Country Dance & Song Society (CDSS) and with nearby Berea College and its Berea Country Dancers. Dorothy Bolles, a major figure in dance instruction, spent many months over many years coming to the School to teach the community the finer points of English Country Dance. Her friends, Evelyn Wells, Abby Winch Christiansen, Dorothy Nace and others kept the dances and the traditions alive at the school for many years and later administrations have always found a place for dance in their programming. The School has been fortunate to have had contacts with these deep wells of heritage and experience. Consequently, dance has left its mark on the community and its historical memory.

Today, dance at the School is integrated into programming in the Environmental Education Program and a number of other unique adult programs. The collections of rare dance publications, recordings and photographic documentation are a testimony to the deep dive and personal commitment that former staff gave to preserve and teach dance at Pine Mountain School.