ELKINS - An evening of high-energy family fun is in store as the Mountain Dance Trail, a heritage tourism project of Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, presents the last monthly square dance of 2018 on Friday, December 7 in the Creative Commons of Myles Center for the Arts. Live old-time music will be provided by Josh Wanstreet and friends with calling by Taylor Runner.
“It’s the holiday season and what better way to gather a community than with music and dancing,” said Augusta Events Coordinator Becky Hill. “Square dancing brings people together by twos and fours and usually ends with people holding hands, circling left and right in a large circle. It is simple to learn and is a wonderful family friendly activity. It’s great for beginners of all ages.”
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.
Wanstreet lives in Elkins, playing square dances and performing regularly throughout the region. Primarily influenced by the fiddle and banjo styles of North Central West Virginia, he has played with Elmer Rich, Gerry Milnes, Born Old, square dance band the Allegheny Highballers (Scott Prouty and Anne Hartman) and many others. He has also recorded with Erynn Marshall.
Joining Wanstreet are Kevin Chesser on clawhammer banjo and Nate Druckenmiller on guitar.
Chesser is a writer and musician living in West Virginia. He has been performing for dances and community events throughout Appalachia for more than a decade and plays banjo in the Laurel Mountain Ramblers and T-Mart Rounders.
Druckenmiller is a multi-instrumentalist who performs with several bands across the region. A native of Pennsylvania, he grew up playing old-time music in a family band with his parents, Tom and Betty. He has won numerous fiddle contests and played for square dances and festivals in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He now lives in Elkins and works as an instrument repairman at Smakula Fretted Instruments.
Runner, of Morgantown, learned many dances from Worley Gardner, is very active in keeping traditional dances alive and calls regularly in Morgantown and elsewhere.
The dance will be hosted by the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble, a student performance group dedicated to bringing live Appalachian music and dance to audiences around the region. The students will sell baked goods at the dance to raise money to purchase team jackets and other equipment.
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 15 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 January 18 with Emily Miller and friends and Mike Miller calling squares. The 2018-2019 Mountain Dance Trail schedule is available online at www.mountaindancetrail.org. For more information, 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. Local support is provided by the Randolph County Commission.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.