Making Music & Gathering Together: Exploring Regional Dance from Our Commonwealth

Making Music & Gathering Together: Exploring Regional Dance from Our Commonwealth

Learn about the significance of regional dance in Southwest Virginia, as featured in the Our Commonwealth in-exhibition interactive. 

A group of musicians on a stage play fiddles. Some wear boots and cowboy hats.

Old Fiddlers' Convention, Galax, Virginia. Photo by Terry Eiler. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.  

Southwest means...Making Music

People who worked side-by-side in the Southwest's mines, forests, and factories often spoke different native tongues. Music helped break those language barriers. Traditional melodies, treasured homeland instruments, and folk dance steps took on a new life in this remote region of Virginia. In small towns between the mountains, diverse cultures harmonized into a uniquely American sound—Mountain Music. Today, people flock to this area to listen and kick up their feet to musicians carrying on these traditions.

Southwest means...Gathering Together

In small, isolated, self-reliant towns throughout Southwest Virginia, country stores, farmers markets, dance halls, and makeshift stages provide lively venues for communities to celebrate. People come from near and far to join in as folk melodies and dance steps vibrate throughout the region. These events bring together the community and show the youngest generations the ways of their Appalachian ancestors.


The Slide Step is a popular move in Appalachian dance. Learn this step in a video by Martha Spencer, a singer-songwriter, mountain musician, and dancer from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Video provided courtesy of Martha Spencer.