Dancing at Hoppin’ John

Photo by Todd E. Gaul

It’s all about the dance…

Check back in early June for 2020 Updates and Information.

Here’s what happened in 2019:

Thursday in the Dance Tent

7pm – Square Dance with House Band, The Hoppin’ Johnnies and Caller, Nancy Mamlin

Not really the Hoppin’ Johnnies. Katy is missing.

Our house band is an eclectic mix of available folks who love and contribute much to the whole Hoppin’ John scene, and have become one of Pittsboro’s best dance bands. The general lineup includes Gil McNeill and Greg Hanson on fiddles, Tim Wells on banjo, Steve Fagan on guitar and Katy Shoemaker on bass. But sometimes Cary Mokovitz or Ben Riesser drop in and switch up the whole protocol! Come out to this intimate Hoppin’ John kick-off and start your weekend off a dancin’! Nancy Mamlin will call the steps.

Nancy Mamlin, from Durham, has been calling square dances for 30 years. She is one of the co-founders of Dare To Be Square, a gathering of square dance callers and dancers, which began in 2003. She also plays guitar, and has been in various bands over the years, most recently the Bull City Trio with husband Ron Cole and Terry Burtyk. In her other life, she is a professor of special education at North Carolina Central University.

Friday in the Dance Tent

4:30pm – Freestyle Flatfooting Dance Workshop

Come ready for fun and exercise! Flatfooting is a percussive dance form – your feet beat the drum. In this workshop, we will explore freestyle flatfooting to old time music, practice finding30122752615_a25a141199_z the rhythm of a tune, learn some simple flatfooting steps and practice “playing the tune” with those steps. Jan Gittelman leads this instructional workshop to live music. Wear smooth-soled shoes if you can, and bring a towel and water bottle, because we are going to sweat!

8:30pm – Square Dance with the Reed Island Rounders and Caller, Nancy Mamlin

 Known for their variety of music, from foot-stomping dance tunes of the Blue Ridge, to romantic waltzes and beyond to dark chilling ballads, the Reed Island Rounders evoke the soul of Appalachian life. The band formed in 1993 with fiddler Betty Vornbrock and guitarist Billy Cornette, and there have been various banjo and bass players over the years. With four recordings, regular staff placements at several music camps and international touring under the belts, the Reed Island Rounders have students and followers far and wide.

For Hoppin’ John this year, James Ruchala (of Winston-Salem) joins on the banjo and mandolin, and Hilary Dirlam (of Mars Hill, NC) adds her bass talents to the mix. The four blend their mutual respect for the old-time music of West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and SW Virginia, where Betty and Billy make their home.

Saturday in the Dance Tent

11am – Kids Clogging with Kendall Harkey

Kendall Harkey has been clogging with the Apple Chill Cloggers for 10 years. She began dancing as a kid when her mom taught her how to clog in her kitchen at home, and since then has enjoyed teaching kids who love to dance. This workshop is recommended for ages 5 and up, and will teach circle dances and simple clogging steps. 

11:45am – Clogging Workshop with the Green Grass Cloggers

30123116035_eae95baa6e_mFor forty-six years (!) now, the Green Grass Cloggers have been kicking up their heels with their own style of clogging in their home state of North Carolina, and around the world. Inspired by traditional mountain-style clogging teams and influenced by Appalachian flatfooters and buckdancers, they developed an original, eclectic style of dance, which was a radical departure from traditional team clogging. Today’s Green Grass Cloggers include dancers from multiple generations continuing that Green Grass style!

6pm – Family Dance & Cake Walk with the Hoppin’ Johnnies & Caller Anna Lena Phillips Bell

Everyone gets the chance to square dance, even if your bedtime is before 8pm! Join in this family dance for all ages. Our family band rendition of the Hoppin’ Johnnies plays the tunes with Anna Lena to teach the steps, providing instruction for each dance beforehand and calling easy-to-follow squares. The family dance is followed by the ever-popular cake walk!

8:15pm –  Country Two-Step Dance with Cliff Hale & The Grand Ol’ Ospreys

Cliff Hale & The Grand Ol’ Ospreys hail from the hard-scrabble, wide-open spaces of yesteryear. Channeling the likes of Hank Williams, Jimmy Rogers and George Jones, this band plays real-deal, old-timey, honky-tonk music that gets your feet to dancing and your heart all full of sorrow. They use the tools of the trade to cover all your Grand Ol’ Opry favorites with Clay Shelor on fiddle; Matt Haney on pedal steel/fiddle; Tim Shearer playing eclectic guitar; Zach Mondry thumping the upright bass, Mark Murphy hitting the drums and Cliff Hale on lead vocal and guitar.

9:30pm – Rowdy Square Dance with Hoot & Holler and Friends, Caller Anna Lena Phillips Bell

Change is bittersweet…a scheduling conflict has caused the Five Points Rounders to pull out of this year’s dance, and we are most grateful to Hoot and Holler for jumping in! We feel confident that fiddler Amy Alvey can throw down some hard-driving, thrashin’ old-time tunes to make the dancing rowdy, taking the band’s eclectic Americana sound back to its roots. Hoot and Holler are the sum of two parts: guitarist Mark Kilianski and fiddler Amy Alvey, now hailing from Asheville, NC. Anna Lena Phillips Bell calls the steps, with a quick lesson and walk-thru before each tune.

Saturday on the Main Stage

1pm (following Youth Instrument Contest) – Youth Dance Contest

The competition is getting tough with the young dancers! Stop by the main stage and support the next generation of flat-foot, buck dancers and cloggers.

7pm – Clogging Performance with the Green Grass Cloggers

See description above.

End of the Band Contest – Adult Dance Contest

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