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Bob Dalsemer

Bob Dalsemer

Square dance caller, teacher, and scholar Hayesville, NC (Clay County)

Bob Dalsemer has been a dance instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School for more than twenty-five years. Since 1991, he has been the Folk School’s Coordinator of Music and Dance Programs, and a resident of Western North Carolina. Much in demand to call and teach squares, contras, and circle dances, and traditional English and Danish dance, Dalsemer is widely recognized as an expert in traditional dancing, and is a leading figure in such programming and instruction at a national and international level.

In his native Baltimore, Dalsemer co-founded the Baltimore Folk Music Society, and was involved in the founding of the dance program of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. For six years in the 1990s, he was President of the Country Dance and Song Society, a national organization with expertise in English and American traditional dance and song, founded in 1915. He is also the principle caller for Berea College’s Mountain Folk Festival youth weekend.

Dalsemer’s 1982 book West Virginia Square Dances, published by the Country Dance and Song Society, is a thorough study not only of the state’s traditional dance forms, but of the historical, musical, and local contexts in which they developed. His two square dance collections/recordings, Smoke On the Water and When The Work’s All Done, are available as CDs. In 1995, the John C. Campbell Folk School, with support from the North Carolina Arts Council, published Dalsemer’s Folk Dance Fun for Schools and Families.

Numerous squares and contras of Dalsemer’s own composition, some of which premiered at the Folk School, have been published in dance collections and are widely popular among callers. Dalsemer himself has called dances in 33 states, Canada, several countries in central Europe, Britain, and Russia.

In 2011, Dalsemer was honored with the Country Dance and Song Society’s Lifetime Contribution Award.


Bob Dalsemer calls for dance groups and dance camps throughout the United States and abroad, and teaches workshops in both dancing and calling at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. He is available for private groups, school programs, and teacher workshops.