Big French Dance
Photographs by Ron Stanford
RON AND FAY STANFORD lived in southwest Louisiana for two years, from 1972 to 1974, with the goal of documenting regional French music. They produced an LP record, J’Étais au Bal, Music from French Louisiana, with extensive liner notes and photographs, then moved on.
Forty-two years after the project ended in 2016, Ron rediscovered his old box of negatives from Louisiana. With the benefit of digital technology, he started scanning them and making large prints. “Seeing my pictures in high resolution for the first time, I was led back into that musical world in which I had seen and heard things strange and wonderful.”
Big French Dance is an unexpected time capsule of Louisiana life.
Early Reactions to Big French Dance
“Ron Stanford’s powerful black and white photographs capture the heart of Cajun and Zydeco worlds, in which all ages dance, sing, and celebrate life in deeply grounded ways. Big French Dance is a landmark collection of photographs that forever preserve the history of a people and their beloved music.”
— WILLIAM FERRIS, Voices of Mississippi, Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina
“Ron and Fay Stanford moved to Cajun and Creole south Louisiana in 1972. They immersed themselves in the distinctive, intimate cultural world of French family and village life, music and dance, local festivals and Catholic rituals. The results herein are quietly evocative photographs and thoughtful reflections recalling a time when the enduring culture seemed destined to disappear. Yet many people portrayed in this book became leaders to the vibrant, culturally self-aware continuity and creativity of French Louisiana today.”
— NICK SPITZER, host of American Routes, Professor of Anthropology at Tulane
“These photos show the natural dance of life before the tidal wave of commercialization and rising self-consciousness took over. Before Paul Prudhomme and the Cajun food craze he inspired, before Mulates, before The Big Easy.”
— MICHAEL DOUCET, Founder and bandleader of BeauSoleil, from his introduction to Big French Dance
All images and text in this listing are the sole property of Ron Stanford, and may not be reproduced without express written permission.