Contras, squares, circle dances, English country
Robert "Bob" Dalsemer lives in Hayesville, North Carolina in the extreme southwestern corner of the state: two miles from Georgia, thirty miles from Tennessee, and "about two and a half hours from everywhere."
He was born and raised in Baltimore, where he co-founded the Baltimore Folk Music Society and helped start the dance program for the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. He served as president of The Country Dance and Song Society from 1990-1996.
In the early 1980's Bob became a regular dance instructor at The John C. Campbell Folk School and moved to southwestern North Carolina in 1991 to become Coordinator of Music and Dance Programs at The Folk School. In his 22 years at the school he greatly expanded the music program, instituted annual training courses for callers and dance musicians, and began producing a concert series featuring many fine local and regional traditional musicians. In 2011 The Country Dance and Song Society awarded Bob its Lifetime Contribution Award.
Bob specializes in calling traditional American contra, square and circle dances. He has composed a number of new dances in traditional style and published two collections of traditional square dances (Smoke On the Water and When The Work's All Done) which, after being out of print for some time are available again from Hanhurst's Tape and Record Service.
Bob's 1982 book, "West Virginia Square Dances," about old-time square dancing in five West Virginia communities is also available again, free, online. He also enjoys teaching, calling, and dancing English country dances.
Since 2000, Bob has been the principal caller for the Mountain Folk Festival at Berea College in Kentucky, an annual dance weekend in March for middle and high school age dance groups.
He has called dances in more than 30 states, Canada, the Czech Republic, Britain, Belgium, Denmark, and Russia.
In addition to calling, Bob plays fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and piano accordion. He is a musician for Sticks In the Mud Morris, Rural Felicity Garland Dancers, Dames Rocket Northwest Morris, and a member of the Dog Branch Cats string band.
Bob retired from administrative duties at the Folk School in April, 2013. He continues calling, playing music, teaching callers' workshops, and volunteering as a Guardian Ad Litem (Court Appointed Special Advocate).
He has two adopted sons: Peter and Andrew.