The Mountain Dance Trail, a project of the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, is kicking off the new year and its new season with a square dance on Friday, January 8 in Pit Dance Studio in the Myles Center for the Arts on the College campus. The evening will feature driving old-time tunes by Gerry Milnes and Friends and calling by Mary Alice Milnes.

A beginners’ workshop is set for 7:30 p.m. and the dance starts at 8 p.m. All dances are beginner and family friendly and participants don’t need to come with a dance partner.

Milnes served as the Folk Arts Coordinator for Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College for 25 years, retiring in 2013. He is known for his vast repertoire of tunes unique to West Virginia and always enjoys playing for a square dance. Milnes is the recipient of the Vandalia Award from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the West Virginia Governor’s Art Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Davis & Elkins College.

“Gerry Milnes is one of the best old-time dance fiddlers I know,” says Becky Hill, coordinator of The Mountain Dance Trail. “He loves to square dance and that comes out in his music as he plays for dancers.”

Gerry Milnes playing guitar.

Gerry Milnes playing guitar.

Brittany Hicks, assistant director of Augusta, says, “Mary Alice Milnes knows lots of traditional West Virginia figures. She is especially skilled at teaching beginning dancers and making everyone feel welcome on the dance floor.”

Admission is $6 for general public, $4 for students and AmeriCorps members, and free to Davis & Elkins College students, faculty and staff.

The dance is part of The Mountain Dance Trail, a heritage tourism project of Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins, which hosts a square dance almost every weekend in the heart of West Virginia. The Mountain Dance Trail 2016 schedule with square dances across the Mountain State is now available online and in a brochure. The next Elkins square dance is slated for Friday, February 12 with Bob Smakula and Red Run. To learn more, visit www.mountaindancetrail.org or call the Augusta Heritage Center at 304-637-1209.

A D&E center of excellence for more than 40 years, the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College offers several week-long programs featuring instruction in many traditions of music, dance, craft and folklore. Concerts, dances, a summer festival and other heritage arts events are part of the Augusta experience. The Augusta Heritage Center is also home to significant collections of field recordings, oral histories, photographs, instruments and Appalachian art.

Programs offered by the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College are presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.

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