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The Danske Magic

By Staff | Jun 20, 2014

The “Danske magic,” is expected to enchant new audiences when “Danske Dandridge: In her Own Words,” is screened here in Shepherdstown on Friday, June 27.

Local historian, Jim Surkamp, along with a group of Danske fans will be sharing her words and thoughts as part of the free presentation being held at the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies auditorium at Shepherd University.

To honor the 100th anniversary of Dandridge’s death, Surkamp arranged to show the 67 minute film, which he says aptly captures the personality and purpose of an important local icon.

“You almost have to go through the gate of Danske Dandridge to understand and love Shepherdstown,” Surkamp said.

An early 20th century denizen of Shepherdstown, the poet, garden enthusiast and noted historian, lived adjacent to the present-day location of the Shepherdstown Middle School, overlooking the Elmwood Cemetery.

A member of the historic Bedinger family, Dandridge’s roots in Shepherdstown’s beginnings and her own work in preserving its history are part what make her story unique.

Surkamp, who has been collecting and archiving the history of Jefferson County since the 1980s, said he was intrigued to find the author of “Historic Shepherdstown,” was a woman of varied talents.

“I didn’t know how interesting she was,” he said.

“I knew something needed to be addressed about this author.”

“Danske Dandridge: In her Own Words,” is comprised of photographic images from the early 1900s in and around the Shepherdstown area.

Additionally, ten of Dandridge’s lyrical poems are performed, with accompaniment of original music composed by local musician, Terry Tucker.

“It’s really an enchantment, not a film,” Surkamp said.

The film has evolved since the project’s inception about 15 years ago, when an entirely live performance of the Dandridge’s work was put on the same group at the National Conservation Training Center.

Surkamp described next Saturday’s event as a “homecoming,” for Dandridge and her words– which make up the entirety of the films dialogue, aside form a brief introduction.

Surkamp said the film’s viewers will be treated to Dandridge’s devotion to nature as expressed in the imagery of her poetry.

He went on to say that Dandridge’s writing stands out as it demonstrates a personality invested entirely in living in the present moment.

“There’s something very powerful about that,” he said.

Actor Ardyth Gilbertson will portray Dandridge at the event, greeting guests as the enter the auditorium.

For more information, contact the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies at 304-876-5701.