Appalachian Ensemble

About the Ensemble

The Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble, a student performance group led by String Band Director Emily Miller and Dance Director William Roboski, is dedicated to bringing live traditional music and dance to audiences in West Virginia and beyond. Composed entirely of students attending D&E, the group features an acoustic string band (fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass) and a team of dancers with a diverse range of expertise.

The group focuses on the intersections of different American vernacular forms and their roots, ranging from old-time music and flatfooting to jazz music and tap dance, to Irish sean nós dance, body percussion and numerous traditional American styles of harmony singing. The performances include a variety of regional dance styles, contemporary choreography, and a selection of traditional songs and tunes.

“Performing with Appalachian Ensemble is like building a community - not just among the dancers and musicians, but also across the region. In return, we are gifted with new tunes, dance steps, stories and friendships.” –Will Roboski, '17, dancer

“Appalachian Ensemble does more than just provide a space for expression. It preserves and spreads the traditional arts of West Virginia and Appalachia in a way that is visually and aurally appealing. We respect those who came before us while holding in reverence our own interpretations of Appalachian traditional arts.” –Scotty Leach, '16, musician

 

Student Scholarships

All students receive scholarships for their participation in the Ensemble. Auditions are open to talented dancers and musicians who are interested in attending D&E and performing with the Ensemble. To schedule an audition or to learn more about the program, contact the Ensemble directors at appalachianensemble@dewv.edu.

 

Concerts and Workshops

The Ensemble performs at festivals and concert halls during the school year (September-May). The Ensemble also leads workshops in the basics of traditional clogging, body percussion and singing styles for both children and adults as part of its mission to bring traditional music and dance to a broad range of audiences around the country. To inquire about booking the Ensemble, contact the Ensemble directors at appalachianensemble@dewv.edu.

"Seldom do we have an assembly where all students are attentive and appreciative. Not only did the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble put on a performance that had the students' undivided attention, but they had all students clapping, cheering and dancing in their seats. I look forward to see this troupe perform for our guys again in the future!"  -Erin Marks, teacher at Tucker County High School

"The D&E Appalachian Ensemble was a real treat to experience! They made an afternoon out of demonstrating captivating dance, spellbinding music and interactive, educational workshops. Both my band and choir were thrilled to work with them, and as a director, it was wonderful to see collegiate performers donning an educators hat! We all had a blast, and can't wait for them to make their return trip!" -Denver Gaydon, teacher at Tucker County High School

 

2016-2017 Tour

September 2: First Friday; downtown Elkins, W.Va.

September 11: Grant County Arts Council; Petersburg, W.Va.

September 30 - October 1: Shepherdstown Appalachian Festival; Shepherdstown, W.Va.

October 2-9: Mountain State Forest Festival; Elkins, W.Va. (details TBA)

October 18: Fall Showcase; Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, W.Va.

October 23: Purple Fiddle; 7 p.m.; Thomas, W.Va. ($7 suggested donation)

November 11: Elkins Square Dance; Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, W.Va.

February 15: Brown Bag Lunch Concert; Randolph County Community Arts Center, Elkins, W.Va.

March 24: Floyd Country Store; Floyd, Va.

March 25: Eastern Tennessee State University/Warren Wilson College Collaboration; Johnson City, Tenn.

March 26: Sunday Concert Series; Tamarack, Beckley, W.Va.

April 21-23: Davis & Elkins Dance Festival; Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, W.Va.

May 5: Marlinton High School and Pocahontas County Opera House; Marlinton, W.Va.

May 11: Year-End Showcase; 7:30 p.m.; Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, W.Va.

 

2016-2017 Ensemble Members

Elizabeth Brown, dancer

Jonathan "Yoni" Callahan, dancer

Madalyn Humphrey, dancer

Katie Little, dancer

Eli Lucchesi, dancer

Katharine Manor, dancer

Cierra Merrill, dancer

Matthew Olwell, dancer, musician

Branson Raines, musician

Allison Riley, dancer

William Roboski, dancer, musician

Devon Rose, musician

Alina Soltis, dancer

Tiffanie Toler, Dancer

Ben Zorn, musician

 

Videos

Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble

Appalachian Ensemble Promo

Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble

Orientation Weekend Performance (August 2015)

Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble

Working on a Building (September 2014)

Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble

Rager (September 2014)

 

In the News

Musical Heart Work: Retooling Appalachian Tradition

This week on Inside Appalachia, we're taking a look at Appalachians of all stripes who are retooling tradition to create a brighter future. (WV Public Broadcasting - June 2016)
 

Kaia Kater: A Portrait of a Young Quebecalachian

Since the show began almost two years ago, A Change of Tune has highlighted some of the best up-and-coming artists out of these West Virginia hills. (WV Public Broadcasting - June 2016)
 

First Class of D&E's Appalachian Ensemble Program Shines in National Spotlight

Appalachian Ensemble works a lot like a college sports team- the players, in this case musicians and flatfoot dancers, earn scholarships. (WV Public Broadcasting - May 2016)
 

Appalachian Ensemble Presents Spring Showcase

D&E student performing group will present new works and a selection of pieces they’ve perfected on tour in their annual Spring Showcase. (Davis & Elkins College - May 2016)
 

Cradle of Country Music

What a great weekend to be in Historic Downtown Calhoun. Our annual Georgia String Band Festival kicks off with the Appalachian Ensemble from Davis & Elkins College. (Calhoun Times - April 2016)
 

Appalachian Ensemble Performing in Georgia, Tennessee

D&E’s Appalachian Ensemble has been invited to share their cultural heritage in two performances in the Southeast. (Davis & Elkins College - April 2016)
 

FOOTMAD to Present Students’ ‘Rising Stars’ Appalachian Music Concert

“Rising Stars” concert is proof that the Appalachian music scene continues to survive and evolve in the Mountain State, driven by the talent, energy and creativity of college students. (Kanawha Metro - February 2016)
 

Rising Stars of Traditional Music Coming to FOOTMAD

The Friends of Old Time Music And Dance will kick off its spring concert series with a show featuring the rising stars of the West Virginia traditional music scene. (Charleston Gazette Mail - February 2016)
 

Could New Twists on Traditional Music Help Revive Appalachia's Economy?

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll hear why Davis & Elkins College offers a unique type of scholarship for students who play traditional folk music. (WV Public Broadcasting - October 2015)
 

Appalachian Ensemble Premiering New Works at Fall Showcase

Appalachian Ensemble premieres several new works and a selection of pieces they’ve perfected on tour this fall in the annual Fall Showcase. (Davis & Elkins College - October 2015)
 

D&E’s Appalachian Ensemble Performing Showcase

Appalachian Ensemble premieres new works and presents pieces they’ve perfected on tour. This past year, the group has traveled more than 2,300 miles to perform. (Davis & Elkins College - May 2015)
 

Rising Stars of Bluegrass and Old Time Music Perform in Charleston

Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance showcases West Virginia’s up-and-coming traditional musicians and dancers with a concert. (Charleston Daily Mail - November 2014)
 

Appalachian Ensemble Performing Free Concert Showcase

D&E's Ensemble presents a showcase of works-in-progress, as well as pieces they perform throughout the region. The group expanded its reach in 2014, bringing live music and dance to audiences in West Virginia and beyond. (Davis & Elkins College - November 2014)
 

Students Explore Similarities Between Appalachian and Romanian Folk Music

Romanian artists joined the Appalachian Ensemble, a Davis & Elkins College student string band and dance group, for the Common Notes project. (Traveling 219 - October 2014)
 

D&E’s Appalachian Ensemble Performing in Cultural Exchange Program

Appalachian Ensemble, the Davis & Elkins student string band and dance group, performs in concert as part of an international cultural exchange program. (Davis & Elkins College - October 2014)
 

D&E Reviving Forest Festival Pageant

For the first time since 1966, the Forest Festival Pageant will be staged by D&E as part of the Coronation of Queen Silvia. The pageant features a performance by Appalachian Ensemble. (Davis & Elkins College - September 2014)
 

D&E Students Showcasing Talents

The College’s student music and dance performance group, Appalachian Ensemble, takes the stage to share several new dances that have been prepared for the group's tour and showcase. (Davis & Elkins College - May 2014)
 

Davis & Elkins College Students Preserve the Spirit of Appalachia

Kaia Kater-Hurst found her niche a long way from home. Originally from Montreal, the theology and philosophy major has spent the last two years at D&E as a member of Appalachian Ensemble. (WV Uncovered - December 2013)
 

D&E Brings "Appalachian Spirit" to Highlands

As a string band plays an old-time tune, flat-footing dancers pound out the percussion … not an uncommon sight in the Mountain Highlands. But what makes this ensemble unique is that they are college students at D&E rehearsing on the back porch of one of the campus’s historic mansions. (WV Executive - November 2012)

 

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For more information, email appalachianensemble@dewv.edu.