Kentucky Dare to be Square

In late March, an enthusiastic group of dancers, callers, and musicians gathered at Cowan Community Center for the first Kentucky Dare To Be Square. “Dare To Be Square” is a name for square dance weekends that happen all over the country to promote square dancing and provide opportunities for new and experienced callers to learn and practice calling.

Bev May, who has been instrumental in the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, initiated the idea of hosting a square dance weekend to bring folks together around dance and music, outside of Cowan’s big music camp in June. I joined Bev, along with a few others, to plan the weekend. We offered workshops with callers from Kentucky and West Virginia, sessions in flatfooting and traditional Mexican folk dance, and opportunities to sing songs and play tunes. We also had community dances in the evenings and delicious meals throughout (food and dance go better together, right?). It was inspiring to feel the energy in the room. To join hands with old friends and new friends around the circle. To see the community that came together to make the event happen. To watch different generations learn from and enjoy time with one another. To see dancing as a tradition that is rooted, but also a communal art that is always an evolving, co-created expression of a moment, like a familiar story, retold in a way each time that takes on a life of its own.

We have a rich history of dancing here, as well as a present commitment to creating opportunities for dancing to continue and thrive. During my time working with the East Kentucky Food & Dance Trail, it has been heartwarming to see long standing dances at community centers like Carcassonne, Hemphill, and Campbell’s Branch continue. And it has also been exciting to see new dance events pop up in places like Morehead, Buckhorn, and right here in Hindman. Dare To Be Square at Cowan Community Center was a fun event to plan, participate in, and watch happen. I’m excited to see what other dance and learning opportunities spring forth from it.

If you’re interested in staying up to date on other dance opportunities in eastern Kentucky, contact me at or you can like the East Kentucky Food & Dance Trail Facebook page.