A Doll? A Puppet? Or More Than That?

There’s someone new at our house. Well actually, I can’t call him

Here's the new someone at our house.

Here’s the new someone at our house.

“someone”…. so I’ll begin again. There’s a new person at our house….oops, that won’t do, either. Is that because he is not alive? No, with a little assistance he becomes quite lively.

O.K. Here’s my third try. Guess I shouldn’t call him, “him,” although he’s well dressed in a red suit and black bow tie. He’s, oops there I go again. I just don’t feel comfortable calling him an “it.”

We named him “Dan, the Dancing Man” then found out that there is one of him being produced commercially by that name. Yes, he is produced, not born. He is the product of my husband’s, Burl’s, wood shop, his metal shop, too. Burl designed him and gave his head a three-dimensional look. He wears a jaunty hat, too. And, a big

This one is totally unfinished and not three-dimensional.

This one is totally unfinished and not three-dimensional.

smile makes him irresistible. But what really grabs your heart is watching him dance.

By now, some of you have guessed that Dan is a limberjack, some call them jig dolls. because their jointed limbs dance or “jig” on the end of a thin board. Jig dolls are essentially home-made. Cut out of plywood, some builders leave them flat without “clothing” and completely unfinished. Others

Some people really do dress-up  limberjacks.

Some people really do dress-up limberjacks.

spend much time decorating and dressing up their dolls. Dan is quite fancy. He has not yet made his debut, although he has danced for the family, and a few close friends.

While doing research on limberjack construction and the technique for making it dance, I thought it was quite a coincidence to find that there is a real, live Dancing Dan who walks/dances/ and trots around the city of Frederick, Maryland. He has become a sort of urban legend there. This

Dancin' Dan of Frederick, MD.

Dancin’ Dan of Frederick, MD.

Dan has a huge smile on his face and he often “dances” while crossing the street in front of your car. He has come close to being hit a few times. Lately he has been dancing to contemporary Christian music. Initially, he got a “lot of flack” for dancing on the sidewalks, a few people said he looked weird. Our daughter lives near Frederick, so the next time we visit we’ll look for him. This time of the year, however, he may be hard to find.

Dancing Dan says, “Some people love me and some think I’m off-the-wall.” I wonder if that might be the same reaction we’ll receive with our

Hope he doesn't take off for the street.

Hope he doesn’t take off for  street dancing.

“Dan, The Dancing Man.” If you’re scratching your head and wondering what we will do next, hold on because you never know what the next thing is to come out of Burl’s wood shop. With his many projects I seldom have to wonder what to write about in shirlandyou.

Dancing Dan is center front. He and music go together. It's the same with us.

“Dan, the Dancing Man” is center front. For him, a big smile and music always seem to  go together. It’s the same with us.

11 thoughts on “A Doll? A Puppet? Or More Than That?

  1. When I first saw the picture of “Dan”, I thought that he might be a puppet used by a ventriloquist. Then I realized…..after reading your blog, that he was created by Burl. I know that Burl has a nice shop with lots of tools and Burl is also very talented and creative. “Dan” is certainly an interesting guy, and I never heard of a limberjack doll before. Burl sure has lots of interests and he did a great job on “dancing Dan”, too. Thanks for sharing your story about him.


    • Hi Colleen: I appreciate your quick reply to my posts. I knew you would enjoy this one, but then, you seem to enjoy all of my blog posts. I look forward to all of your comments. Thanks for writing.


  2. Hello Shirl…
    We love dancing Dan and Burl did a beautiful job (as usual). We also have 2 limberjacks but unforunately they are no longer politically correct . We still enjoy making them perform.


    • If I were to guess who else would have a limberjack it would be you two. Bring them with you the next time you come to visit. I know we will see a top-notch performance. I didn’t mention that it takes some persistence and experience to make them dance, well.. Thanks for writing, Connie.


  3. Never knew they were called limberjack. What an appropriate name. I love watching them dance and I’m sure it takes a great deal of practice to do it successfully. Burl is talented in many ways as are you.


    • Thanks for writing, Janine. You were one of the first people to see “Dan the Dancing Man” in action. He brings a smile to everyone’s face. Hope you also see the live Dancing Dan in your area.


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