New River Train: Singing Squares from the Collection of Keith Blackmon

by Nils Fredland,

A CDSS Pubication

The 40 dances in New River Train were carefully selected from a collection of over 300 square dance figures that New York State caller Keith Blackmon assembled and self-published in 2008. The dances were taken from a list of Keith's favorites, with the aim to create a resource that succeeds at historical preservation as well as providing a fresh look at traditional repertoire.

  The dances, with music, and many tips and variations provided by editor Nils Fredland, are divided into easy and intermediate levels. The easy dances have very accessible figures and lend themselves to an intergenerational crowd. Both easy and intermediate dances are interesting for contra dancers, and perfect for traditional square dance evenings provided your musicians are able to back up singing squares (if not, you can separate the figure from the song and call the dance in patter style with any tune). The timing of the choreography is flexible enough to ensure success for slower moving dancers, as well as offering space to add swings and extra flourishes for those who are interested in a more energetic experience. Above all, the songs in this collection are irresistibly fun to sing!

 The book includes an fascinating essay by Jim Kimball, ethnomusicologist at SUNY Geneseo, titled Old-Time Dancing in Western New York: Keith Blackmon's Collection in Context, a glossary of terms, and basic information for making singing squares part of your calling repertoire. Go forth and call singing squares – it’s fun!


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