The West Virginia Division of Culture and History has cancelled its Saturday, Feb. 14, “Calling for Traditional Square Dance” workshop with Mack Samples. The Discover Arts and Crafts workshop has been rescheduled for Saturday, June 13, from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Mack Samples of Duck, Clay County, will lead the workshop. The session will focus on old-time and traditional square dance calling instructions. Samples will distribute written copies of the squares and calls and have a set of dancers demonstrating the various squares. He also will call some dances and point out techniques including calling in time with the music, keeping a close eye on all the sets as the dance progresses, and the importance of teaching dancers the actual steps for the square dance. The latter half of the workshop will provide students the opportunity to call some dances. A question-and-answer session will wrap up the workshop.
Samples has been square dancing for most of his adult life and became an active caller during the 1970s. He started calling at the West Virginia State Folk Festival in Glenville in 1976 where he had already been dancing for years. He taught himself the art of calling by listening and watching experienced callers, and credits Willie Reed, Tom Luzader and Carl Davis as providing the most influence on his craft.
A fiddle player, Samples thinks his fiddle playing has been a great asset to his calling because it helped him blend his calls with the music. Since the 1970s, he has called regularly at the annual Vandalia Gathering at the Cultural Center and State Capitol Complex, the West Virginia State Folk Festival and the Appalachian String Band Music Festival at Camp Washington-Carver in Fayette County. He and his wife, Thelma, also have taught traditional square dancing at the West Virginia 4-H Dance Weekend at Jackson’s Mill in March of each year. In 2003, Samples was the Vandalia Award winner, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor.
Participation in the workshop is limited to students aged 15 to adults and there is a $15 fee. For more information about the Discover Arts and Crafts Workshop series or to make a reservation, contact Pat Cowdery, festival events coordinator for the Division, at (304) 558-0220, ext. 130. The final Arts and Crafts workshop will be held on Saturday, May 2, with Joyce Cain teaching a split-bottom woven stool class.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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