BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (Sept. 20, 2023) – The public is invited to attend two events of immersive West Virginia step dancing and square dancing at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and Bristol Ballet Sept. 29 and 30 that will get your toes a-tapping to centuries-old dance customs that make up the fabric of Appalachian culture. The fun begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 29, at the museum with a screening of “Reel ‘Em, Boys, Reel ‘Em,” a documentary that follows the Mountain Dance Trail as it winds across West Virginia, featuring interviews with callers, dancers, musicians, and dance historians, and followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Becky Hill.
The following evening at 6:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 30, participants may join in a high-steppin’ square dance session at Bristol Ballet’s studio located at 330 Buford Street in Bristol, Va. Becky Hill will lead the event with a short introduction to dance steps, followed by a full square dance with lively string band music from Gina and Jason Dilg. Both events are free and open to all ages; please RSVP through the Events pages at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.
“Dancing is a big part of Appalachian culture and community, and so we are thrilled to have Becky Hill here to share two engaging and fun-filled dance-focused events. The film is a great opportunity to learn more about dance traditions, while the square dance will give participants the chance to dance themselves!” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “All ages are welcome to participate and no partner or previous experience is needed for the square dance, and we are excited to partner with the Bristol Ballet who will host the square dance in their new studio.”
Becky Hill is currently programming manager for the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) and is a percussive dancer, square dance caller, choreographer, community organizer, and educator. Hill completed her M.F.A. in dance at the University of Maryland, College Park in May 2022 and has been an artist-in-residence at Strathmore, John C. Campbell Folk School, Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, and Loghaven. She is actively involved with Dance Exchange’s Dance On Creative Aging Program and can be found performing with T-Mart Rounders calling square dances and teaching dance all over the country.
Hill has worked with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, Good Foot Dance Company and Rhythm in Shoes, and has studied with an array of percussive dance luminaries. She has also worked with a number of cultural and artistic organizations including Wheatland Music Organization’s Carry It On…Project, The Mountain Dance Trail of August Heritage Center, and Helvetia Hoot. She directed her first evening length music and dance work inspired by Appalachia called “Shift.”
As an avid organizer and teacher, Becky’s work is deeply rooted in the connections between music and community. She believes there is always more to learn and is dedicated to creating innovative choreography rooted in Appalachian music and dance.
These events are complementary programming to the museum’s current special exhibit, I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music, on display through Dec. 31, 2023. Special thanks are due to the East Tennessee Foundation Art Fund for their support of the exhibit’s programming and to Bristol Ballet, one of the exhibit’s sponsors.
To pre-register for the screening and square dance, and for more information, visit the Events page at the BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.