Performing Arts

The Legacy of Southern Appalachian Dance: From Whose Perspective?

Dr. Gordon McKinney

On Saturday, October 14, from 2–3:30 p.m., the Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) welcomes Dr. Gordon McKinney to the Reuter Center at UNC Asheville to present a program titled The Legacy of Southern Appalachian Dance: From Whose Perspective? The program is the final part of a four-part series exploring the heritage of music and dance in WNC. McKinney’s program will examine the way dance and music impacted the social fabric and bonding traditions of Appalachian communities in the region.

“As history demonstrates, 18th- and 19th-century life in the mountains of WNC was hard for individuals and families,” says WNCHA committee member Bill Lineberry. “The daily challenge of living off the land was immense, never-ending and often solitary. As it evolved over the centuries, music and dance provided the social tools that WNC individuals, families and communities relied on to generate moments of joy and communal spirit to meet the toils yet to come.”

McKinney’s insight into this topic is pulled from a 40-year career spent researching the political and social history of WNC and Southern Appalachia. He was the director of the Appalachian Studies Program at Berea College before retiring in 2009. “What I find most interesting about Appalachian culture is its variety,” he says. “The large number of eastern Europeans, African- Americans and Hispanics bring their own perspectives and traditions to the region.” McKinney now lives in Asheville and teaches at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville.

Tickets will be provided at the door. A $5 donation is requested and attendance is free for WNCHA members. This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.

“I hope that the audience will walk away from this program with a greater appreciation for the complexity of Appalachian culture,” says McKinney.

The Reuter Center is located at 1 Campus View Road in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on the UNC Asheville campus. For more information about this program, visit

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