Square or line - you're invited. Lou Maiuri is an instructor of traditional Appalachian dance and modern line dancing, and this summer he is traveling across the West Virginia State Parks system to teach his style of dance. He has won many awards in competition, including three national championships and is the director and founder of Appalachian Country Cloggers.
"Bringing traditional dance and instruction to our state parks is a labor of love for Maiuri - his love of people and his love for dance is obvious when you attend one of Lou's dance events," according to Sissie Summers, state parks programming administrator.
"North Bend State Park reported an attendance of more than 100 people dancing with Lou over the July 4th weekend," said Summers. "Maiuri claims that dancing keeps you young and all youngin's ought to be dancing. We couldn't agree more. No previous dance experience (or rhythm) necessary. Come join us for tradition - let's dance!"
"Last summer was great for me" says Maiuri. "Some really prestigious things happened to me last year. The most prestigious was being selected as the 2008 Vandalia Award Winner." The Vandalia Award is West Virginia's highest folk life honor given to one individual each year for a lifetime contribution to West Virginia's traditional heritage.
At the tender age of 80-something, Maiuri conducted square dancing presentations and instruction at 13 state parks in 2008 and 13 shows with his dance team The Appalachian Country Cloggers at various locations around West Virginia. Maiuri was invited to call square dancing at the New York City Barn Dance which was funded by the New York City Arts Council.
An invitation In October 2008 sent him to Berea College in Berea, Ky, to teach and call a square dance and perform at the Saturday night concert. Berea is the hub of old time music and dance in the state of Kentucky and each year they host The Old Time Music Festival at Berea College. Maiuri also calls squares at the Vandalia Festival and the Appalachian String Band Festival, as well as the Augusta Heritage Festival in Elkins, W.Va.
"My 2009 schedule is pretty much a mirror of the 2008 schedule," states Maiuri. "I'm scheduled for performances at 13 West Virginia State parks and will do 12 performances with my team at various locations around the state." Maiuri and the Appalachian Country Cloggers will perform at Pipestem State Park on Friday, July 17, at the Pipestem amphitheater. There is no charge to attend or to participate. Dancing begins at 8 p.m.
Other dancing dates at West Virginia State Parks include:
• Cacapon Resort State Park, Thursday, July 9
• Beech Fork State Park, Saturday, July 11
• Pipestem Resort State Park, Friday, July 17
• Holly River State Park, Wednesday, July 22
• Blackwater Falls State Park, Thursday, July 23
• Cass Scenic Railroad, Saturday, September 26
• Twin Falls Resort State Park, Saturday, October 10
• Tygart Lake State Park, Sunday, October 11
Special programs are scheduled at various park and forest locations in addition to weekly activities organized and conducted by naturalists and programmers at 17 areas. For more information about West Virginia's state parks and forests visit the Web site www.wvstateparks.com and click the "Special Programs" icon or "Calendar of Events." For specific square dancing times, contact the individual parks as time and location will vary, or use 1-800 CALL WVA and ask for the specific park.