Appalachian Spirit performing for square dance

A foot-stomping good time is planned for today, Friday, Sept. 13, as Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Music and Dance Club and the Elkins Country Dance Society present a square dance with live music by Appalachian Spirit. A dance workshop begins at 7:30 p.m. and the dance follows at 8 p.m. in the Augusta Dance Pavilion on the college campus.

Organizers emphasize that square dance beginners are welcome. The workshop will consist of a short lesson in the basic square dance figures which will have everyone dancing in no time. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

Elkins resident and Augusta instructor Bob Smakula will call traditional West Virginia square dances to the old-time square dance tunes of Appalachian Spirit.

The string and dance group Appalachian Spirit is made up of D&E students. The repertoire focuses mainly on the traditions of the Appalachian region and includes some other music and dance traditions as well. Dance styles include traditional and contemporary clogging, flatfooting, hambone (body percussion), French Canadian step dance, Scottish Highland dance and Sean nos (old-style Irish percussive dance).

The band includes Rebecca Wudarski, a sophomore from Davis, on guitar; Kaia Kater-Hurst, a sophomore from Toronto, Ontario, on banjo; Scotty Leach, a sophomore from Centralia, Wash., on fiddle; Lauren Price, a freshman from Sardis, Ohio, on mandolin; and Leanna Price, a freshman from Sardis, Ohio, on fiddle. The dancers are directed by Becky Hill, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps member with the Augusta Heritage Center. The group includes Conner Berkey, a senior from Brandy Station, Va.; Ashley Stitely, a senior from Philippi; Cassidy Dickens, a sophomore from Madera, Calif.; Millie Omps, a senior from Paw Paw, W.Va.; Leach and Kater-Hurst.

Appalachian Spirit was named the People’s Choice for Entertainment for its performance at the 2013 Ramps and Rails Festival in Elkins, and is featured in the current issue of Goldenseal, the magazine of West Virginia traditional life produced by the Division of Culture and History.

The Elkins Country Dance Society hosts monthly square dances on the second Friday of each month, September through June as part of Augusta’s Mountain Dance Trail.