International music and dance meet Appalachia at Augusta Dance

ELKINS — The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College steps into spring with its monthly square dance on Friday in Myles Center for the Arts Creative Commons. Special guests Mosaic Interactive will offer a music and dance share to complement the Appalachian square dance with old-time music by Andy FitzGibbon, Kevin Chesser and Jesse Milnes, and calling by Tyler Crawford and Nancy Mamlin.

The dance starts at 8 p.m., with a beginners workshop at 7:45 p.m. All dances are beginner and family friendly. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and AmeriCorps members, and free to Davis & Elkins students, faculty and staff. Participants don’t have to come with a dance partner and listeners are welcome. Those planning to dance should bring an extra pair of shoes to change into from their streetwear.

Mosaic Interactive is an international music project of Found Sound Nation, funded by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Artists hailing from Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, Palestine, South Africa and the United States are visiting Elkins to participate in a series of collaborations with D&E and the community.

“It is a joy to invite Mosaic artists to share music and dance at our monthly square dance,” said Augusta Heritage Center Events Coordinator Becky Hill. “It will be an incredible multicultural evening that celebrates social dance forms from around the world.”

Old-time musicians from Randolph County, Andy FitzGibbon on fiddle, Kevin Chesser on clawhammer banjo and Jesse Milnes on guitar will provide music for the dance.

“Winning awards at the West Virginia State Folk Festival, Vandalia Gathering and the Appalachian Stringband Festival, this band is one of the best square dance bands in the state and we are lucky to have them join us,” Hill said.

The dance will be hosted by the student string and dance group Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble. Members also will sell baked goods to raise money to purchase team jackets and other equipment.

“The dances are simple to learn, are a wonderful family friendly activity and great for beginners of all ages,” Hill said. “West Virginia is the only state in Appalachia with such a rich tradition of community square dancing. Come celebrate one of West Virginia’s unique traditions and get a chance to learn about other international music and dance traditions, too.”

Elkins is part of the Mountain Dance Trail, a heritage tourism project of Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College. The project preserves and promotes local community square dances from the Virginia line to the Ohio border. The Mountain Dance Trail hosts a square dance almost every weekend somewhere in West Virginia. The next Augusta Heritage Center Dance is scheduled for April 12. The 2019 Mountain Dance Trail schedule is available online at For more information or a brochure, call the Augusta Heritage Center at 304-636-1209.

Programs offered by the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College are presented with financial support from the WV Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts and the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local support is provided by the Randolph County Commission.