Professor to discuss new book on mountain dance

Warren Wilson College professor Phil Jamison will discuss his new book, “Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance,” and demonstrate a step or two, at Western Carolina University on Thursday, Oct. 29.

The Mountain Heritage Center presentation, co-sponsored by City Lights Bookstore, will begin at 7 p.m. in the ground floor auditorium of H.F. Robinson Administration Building. The event is free and open to the public.

Phil Jamison, a longtime member of the Green Grass Cloggers, performs at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day in 2008.

Phil Jamison, a longtime member of the Green Grass Cloggers, performs at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day in 2008.

Jamison teaches mathematics and Appalachian music and dance at Warren Wilson College. An old-time musician and flatfoot dancer, he has been a member of the Green Grass Cloggers for more than 30 years and coordinates the Old-Time Music and Dance Week at the annual Swannanoa Gathering.

Published by the University of Illinois Press, “Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics” focuses on the history and importance of dance in Southern Appalachia. Through extensive research, Jamison makes the point that mountain dance melds influences from different ethnicities and cultures, including African-American, Cherokee and French, as opposed to popular historical accounts of a continuation of folk dances brought from the British Isles by early settlers. He tells the story of regional folk dance beyond entertainment and traces it as a reflection of immigration and trade practices, cultural identity, fashion, social stratification and innovation.

Jamison will perform some of the dances he discusses in his book. There will be a book signing following the discussion. For more information about the event, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.