Circle up, Go round the town.
Any old way but upside down!
Sue Hulsether leads dances from American folk traditions, guided by a passion for creating positive human connections. When Sue leads, she weaves dancing, singing and community into a joyful tapestry of music and movement. Under the spell of her energetic flair, warmth and clear instruction, groups of all sorts find themselves on their feet and eager to join in. Sue’s calm confidence manages groups large and small, stemming from years of calling dances and teaching people of all ages.
Since 2003, Sue has worked full-time as a dance caller and teaching artist, calling dances in barns, schools, community centers and parks around the Upper Midwest. Before this, she was an elementary music teacher, and has also worked as a non-profit administrator, social services provider for homeless men, youth worker, and camp counselor. Even as a youngster, she was honing her leadership and calling skills by directing imaginary choirs in the family Christmas show and giving lots of directions to her younger sister.
Sue got her start as a caller when she organized an Artist-in-Residence program at the school where she taught music in Richfield, Minnesota. That dance leader -- Terrence Smith of Duluth, Minnesota -- inspired Sue to begin teaching dances to her music students. Soon, she was calling for local scout groups, church events and day camps. Mentored by Terrence and then-Minnesota caller Carol Ormand, Sue began calling at weddings, local contra and square dances and special events. One memorable day found her leading dancing at two birthday parties: one for a 7-year-old and the next for a 70-year-old.
She was hooked. In 1999, Sue received a sabbatical from her teaching job and a Travel/Study grant from the Jerome Foundation of Minneapolis-St. Paul. With this time and money, Sue travelled extensively in the southeastern and northeastern US, interviewing callers and dancing in as many contexts as possible, from small community dances to huge festivals. This extensive travel in the early stages of her calling career gave her the opportunity to gather her material in the valued oral tradition -- which she continues to do to this day. Following her sabbatical, Sue spent three more years in the music classroom before she moved to the country and launched to full-time calling.
In addition to being a caller and teacher, Sue is also a flatfoot dancer in the Appalachian clogging tradition. She danced for seven years with the internationally known Wild Goose Chase Cloggers and subsequently with Shoefly! of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. Sue has taught people of all ages to enjoy the rhythmic delights of flatfoot clogging. At ease leading songs in all kinds of settings, Sue is an accomplished musician who plays piano, guitar, banjo, ukelele, spoons, jawharp, and a bit of accordion.
Sue now lives on a small farm in the hills of southwestern Wisconsin, near the intriguing community of Viroqua. Following a long-held dream of being a market gardener, Sue sold produce at the local farmers’ market for five years, until her calling calendar demanded more time than the vegetables would allow. Now, she travels far and wide to call and dance, while still finding time for the local community square dance, hosting house parties and raising enough food to eat, give away and preserve for winter. She shares her beautiful farm with her husband Steve and a crew of shy barn cats.