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Armstrong County League of Arts

Alle-Kiski

Armstrong County League of Arts

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Location Details

PHONE: 724-763-1722
ADDRESS: 461 Cadogan-Slate Lick Road
Slate Lick, PA 16201
HOURS: Please call or visit website for calendar of events

Description

Some buildings house artifacts that sit quietly in glass cases, far from the fingers of curious children. But other buildings shelter local customs — folklore and traditions kept alive by the warm embrace of friends and family.

For nearly 30 years, the Armstrong County League of Arts Center has been such a place, where western and hoedown square dances thrive. “For the people of this county,” says League founder Marilyn Rea, “that was our American dance.”

But this seemingly quintessential red-white-and-blue art form took many of its cues from the other side of the ocean. England’s Morris and country dances and France’s quadrille and cotillion all left their imprints. As generations of European settlers evolved into American pioneers, the dances came along for the ride.

Nowadays, different parts of the country have unique styles of dance. “We’re stompers or flatfooters,” Rea says of the western Pennsylvania contingent. “We shuffle our feet.” In addition, the advent of a caller who shouts out the steps and keeps the rhythm going with a steady round of chatter was an American contribution. A caller herself, as well as a musician and visual artist, Rea (with her husband, Red) keeps the League of Arts jumping.

On various nights throughout most of the year, the unassuming log building shakes to the rafters with the sounds of bluegrass jams and country socials. “ We fill the place,” Rea says. “They come from all over — Maryland, West Virginia, New York.” Dancers also come in all ages. “We taught our own two grandchildren to square dance,” Rea says. “And I’ve taught at local schools.”

Visitors will find the works of Rea and other local artists lining the walls. Rea’s acrylic renderings depict rural landscapes and seafaring scenes.

And if you’ve come seeking the square dance, Rea asserts that, on any given day, somewhere in Armstrong and its surrounding counties, someone is bound to be calling your name.

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