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Country Dance School Promenades for 50+ Years

Watch the 2006 Christmas Country Dance School audio slideshow here.

“Promenade, round that way and promenade. Two gents swing, now gals swing, corners, circle left, partners, now do-si-do,” calls Berea Christmas Country Dance School veteran Pat Napier to members of his “Kentucky Set Running” class in the Seabury Center dance studio.

Dancers at Berea's Christmas Country Dance School

Downstairs in the gymnasium, English country dance teacher Joseph Pimentel gives his intermediate students the complex first moves of a new number. “In circles of four, join hands … and circle to the left halfway. Face your partner across the set from you, drop hands with your partner and with your neighbor whose hand you still have joined, fall back …. The ones are going to be whooshed up through the twos, twos whoosh them in and up, out the top and down and around the sides. We call that a gate and post.”

In one classroom a large group learns the art of shape note singing while another class learns basketry. Elsewhere beginners learn to play the recorder and experienced story tellers find out how to keep listeners on the edges of their seats.

These are examples of the types of activities that take place each year at the annual country dance school, which has been held at Berea College for more than five decades. This year’s event took place Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

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