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ABSTRACT Marlowe, Rachel. Heartbeat in the Sole: A Study of How Appalachian Dance Preserves, Shapes and Enriches the Culture in Which it is Performed. Unpublished Master of Arts thesis, University of Northern Colorado, 2021. The purpose of this research was to both provide space for and aid in the preservation of stories of southern Appalachian dancers. Southern Appalachian dance, also referred to as flat-footing, buck dancing or clogging depending on the region and the individual, is a tradition often passed from family member to family member and in social environments or communal gatherings. In collecting and grouping these stories, the researcher hoped to identify and categorize the impact that southern Appalachian dance in southern Appalachia had on what the dancers perceive as their personal values and successes. The researcher used a short demographic survey and qualitative interviews to gather answers in support of the following essential questions: Q1 How does Appalachian dance in the southern portion of the region shape values, contribute to successes and enrich the lives of its dancers? Q2 What is the impact, value or link to success of learning southern Appalachian Mountain dance in the home and in a social community? A total of ten individuals were interviewed for this study. Represented among the ten are two different family units, including a father and daughter and a grandmother, mother and daughter, and two published experts who are dancers themselves and whose own work and research has centered around southern Appalachian dance. The remaining three participants were interviewed as individuals. iv Limitations to the study include the impact of COVID-19 on in-person interviews which caused minor technological disruptions, a lack of representation in regard to persons of color and a lack of participants in a family unit that were under the age of 18. Other limitations included the fact that the researcher designed the survey and all the interview questions and conducted the interviews. Analysis of data showed that all who participated in southern Appalachian dance felt a strong connection between their experience dancing and what they consider their personal values and successes. Participants noted that, in various ways, the trajectory of their lives was either directly impacted or enriched by their participation in southern Appalachian dance. Finally, the participants in this study helped the researcher in her pursuit of capturing the stories of southern Appalachian dancers with particular regard to how that tradition both preserves and perpetuates southern Appalachian culture.


Appalachian; dance; clogging; flatfooting; square dance

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