We are here tonight to present the Square Dance Foundation of New England’s Local Legend Award to Bob Livingston who has been promoting square dancing, both traditional and modern western, for 39 consecutive years. The Local Legend Award was established to honor those couples and individuals who have advanced the goals of the Square Dance Foundation of New England, Inc. over the years, withing their local areas. Promotion, Preservation and Perpetuation are the goals.
Bob was born in 1937 in Middletown, Connecticut. He first started square dancing with the Durham Cogin-Chuggers when the club was founded in 1971. He became the club’s 2nd President. He also taught beginner classes for the club. When he started calling, he was influenced by Callers Charlie Underwood, Duke Miller, and Dudley Laufman. He also attended Dick Leger’s Callers School. Bob is a member of NECCA (New England Council of Callers Associations), Connecticut Callers Association, and the Mountain Valley Callers Association. His volunteer square dance calling included CT Square Dance Festivals, New England Sq. & Rd. Dance Conventions, 4-H Fairs, and other community event dances. He has called dances in Toronto, Canada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
In 1987, Bob started a dance series using “singing calls” at community square dances in Franklin County, Massachusetts, with a group of 7 traditional musicians, the Falltown String Band, that was managed by Ed Phelps. This once a month community dance was called by Bob Livingston for the next 20 years. For country dance to continue, there are 3 elements that are crucial – dancers, a caller, and a band. Bob carried on the traditional caller’s role, being impresario, etiquette overseer, band-dance coordinator, and tradition bearer, effortlessly with good humor. This community dance series is still “on-going” because of a grant that Bob applied for and received from the Connecticut Cultural Council.
Since 1989, Bob has assisted a music director, Michael Carbonneau of the Mansfield Middle School at their “Country Dance Nights”. Students from Grade 4-8, as part of their music curriculum, were taught several fiddle tunes. They then played them to the delight of families and friends at the “Country Dance Nights”. It is the responsibility of the dance caller to make many adjustments due to the limited playing ability of these young students. Right from the start, Bob was able to work well with the students and their families, thereby putting together a wonderful dance experience for many first-time dancers.
On March 10, 2009, Bob was informed by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism that he was selected to join CCT’s Directory of Performing Artist. The Directory is an important resource that assists presenters to bring quality performers to audiences across the state. Bob Livingston is listed as a caller of New England traditional country dances and has been performing this art form for over 20 years. Dance forms include “Eastern” square dances ( a distinctive New England form), French Canadian Quadrilles, the Virginia Reel, and dancers called to American fiddle tunes. He also teaches his repertoire and skills to other callers.
Square dance tradition – both eastern and modern western – is staying alive, and Bob is helping it to do so.
It is with great pleasure that the Square Dance Foundation of New England, Inc. presents this year’s Local Legend Award to Bob Livingston of Middletown, Connecticut.