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Preserving the Life’s Work of Keith Blackmon

blackmonpromocardFrom the Introduction of New River Train: Singing Squares from the Collection of Keith Blackmon:

Since my first meeting with him, Keith’s spirit has been with me as I have worked to bring his unique singing square dance repertoire to a wider audience of square dance enthusiasts.

I came into Keith’s life with a sole purpose — to create a polished book, published by CDSS, of singing squares from his collection amassed over 70 years as a dance caller. While many of the squares in Keith’s collection are well-known and frequently called in the region where Keith lived, a CDSS publication would put the squares in front of a much broader audience of dancers and callers, ensuring a long and well-traveled life for the dances themselves, and preserving Keith’s legacy and life’s work as a collector of dances. There were lots of things that Keith and I talked about in our initial meetings, but everything in our conversations eventually led back to the square dances. I came to understand, and really feel, how important it was to him that these dances survive as a vital, growing, and changing participatory art form. Faced with the end of his own life, Keith handed me this piece of himself and trusted me to do something big with it.

I’m really proud of the book. It is polished, and it’s an excellent collection that showcases elements of the regional square dance tradition of the Twin Tiers, and lets readers experience a sense of Keith himself. I am deeply humbled that he allowed me into his life, and that he chose to provide me with the content to create an interesting and useful dance resource. I hope that the book succeeds in giving him the gift of a larger audience for the square dances that he loved so much.

Keith’s spirit has indeed been with me through this whole process, and I can imagine his pride and joy every time I share a dance from New River Train with an audience new to the Blackmon collection.

Buy, enjoy, and use the book! Get to know a very fine man by learning some of his favorite square dances.

New River Train is available from the CDSS store.

~ Nils

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