Mildred Buhler demonstration group
Contributor Paul Moore writes: "In the late 1940's through the early 50's there was a very popular caller in Northern California named Mildred Buhler. The film was Mildred calling to the demonstration group she had in NorCal. When her husband was transferred to London, Mildred took along her calling equipment and called there. She established the British Association of American Square Dance Clubs." (She is listed on the BAASDC website as "Founding Patron." Elsewhere on the SDHP website you can see a video produced in 2001 by the BAASDC, featuring seven top callers there.)
Mildred Buhler also taught international folk dance, attended the Stockton summer dance camp for many years. An associate of Lucile Czarnowski, Buhler served on the Research Committee for the Folk Dance Federation of California.
She drove with her husband and children from Colorado to study with Lloyd Shaw in Colorado, and the Lloyd Shaw styling is evident in this film. Fred Buhler, her son, confirms that this film was made in the very early 1950s, before the family moved to London in 1952.
The film is broken into segments, with Buhler speaking directly to the camera to introduce the dance figures that are being shown. Among them:
Heel and Toe Polka Square
The Fountain with a Cartwheel break
and three that she describes as Texas figures:
Dixie Travel On
The Old Bump Gate
Here is a short biography submitted by one of Buhler's daughters:
How I remember my Mother, Mildred R. Buhler:
To start with, I knew her to be very talented as a dancer/actress who knew how to teach. She had studied dance when she was young & was a regular performer in high school plays. She actually started teaching small children to dance ballet & tap when she was an older teenager.
When my younger sister & I were very young, she would teach us "pieces" ... small sayings to learn, using "expression" as a prelude to learning how to act. When we were young grade school age children, she took us to the very best tap/ballet teacher she could find. As older grade school children, she sent us to a well known children's theater in Palo Alto during the summer, to try out for & participate in a play.
Eventually, she started teaching ballroom dancing and etiquette to Jr. High School age students. These classes were very popular. This was about the early/mid 1940s. During this time, she learned about Lloyd Shaw, who was well known as a square dance expert at Univ. of Colorado. She went to a summer session there to learn all she could from Dr. Shaw. The experience changed her life as well as the lives of our entire family ... and I must say, the lives of the many families who became involved with her classes.
During this time, she was also learning & teaching International Folk Dancing, & I cannot remember whether the folk dancing began before the square dancing, but I believe it did.
Her teen & adult square dance groups became well known for their expertise & beautiful style, & were sometimes invited to perform for special events. They were also regulars at the monthly "Folk Dance Festivals" held around the San Francisco Bay Area & No. California
During the mid 1940's, she became the host of a weekly radio show on the San Francisco Peninsula, which showcased square dancing. During this time, she also became the editor of Let's Dance, a magazine about & for square dancing. All during these years, she stayed in touch with Dr Shaw, continuing to study his techniques, & learn whatever she could about Square Dance.
When my Dad was offered a career move to London, England in 1952, my Mom had over 500 students. She decided to leave her classes in the care of a trusted assistant, & moved to England. Once there, she became involved in a square dance movement in England that, as far as I know, is still operating.
My personal feelings about "growing up dancing":
My Mom had a lovely singing voice, which made her style of Square Dance Calling the most enjoyable that I've ever experienced ... she had the quality & cadence so necessary to the task. I've loved dance all of my life, & I know that the experience of growing up dancing, enriched my life in many ways & have danced for my own enjoyment all of my life. I am now 81 yrs young, & I think back very warmly of the many experiences that my mom's dance career gave to me. I am a professional visual artist, where Mom was a performing artist, but I believe that her creative instincts were a positive influence on me all of my life.
Cecille Clark January, 2013