Audience Cheers Cheyenne Dancers (newspaper)
This newspaper account describes the enthusiastic reception given the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers when they performed at Swarthmore College (PA). This was the second stop on the dancers' inaugural trip east; they first appeared at the National Folk Festival in Washington, DC, before heading north to Swarthmore, New York University, Bennington College, and on into Canada on their return home.
Swarthmore Phoenix, May 2, 1939
Audience Cheers Cheyenne Dancers
Squares and Waltzes Featured in Recital By Mountain Group
By Bobby Ballou
Sixteen boys and girls from the Cheyenne Mountain School in Colorado Springs gave a program of folk dances which fairly took the breath away from their enthusiastic audience last night in Clothier.
Further approval of the group was evidenced afterwards in the men's gym, where almost too many people for comfort participated in square dances and waltzes, directed by Lloyd Shaw, principal of the school, who has made a study of folk dances and the stories behind them. Members of the Cheyenne team helped to teach these dances, seeming as full of pep and high spirits when "Home Sweet Home" concluded the evening at midnight as they had been when they had burst forth shouting on Clothier's stage, four hours earlier.
The dances were in four groups: European, old-fashioned, Mexican, and cowboy. In all of them the dancers showed the same light-footedness, their movements fully catching the spirit of whatever dance they were doing. During the dances Mr. Shaw called the figures, and between them told of the team's experiences, adding to the evening a refreshing informal atmosphere.
Of the European group the Irish Bonfire Dance was one of the most impressive: all of Clothier darkened but for one light in the center of the stage; sixteen gayly costumed dancers in a circle around this "fire;" dancing shadows cast on walls and ceiling. Spectacular too was the Danish Four Dance, in which two men standing opposite, firmly holding their partners by hands clasped round behind them, allowed them to swing out almost horizontally in a "pinwheel."
Girls in delicately colored hoop skirts and men in formal black waltzed gracefully in for the second part of the program. Some of the dances in this group they performed with authentic slowness and decorum; to others they added a delightful spark of western pep and buoyancy.
The Mexicali dances are beyond our spelling, but we fully appreciated the girls' bright swishing skirts, the men's wide red sashed and gay sombreros. The religious dance of Indian origin, with its shuffling feet and beating tom-tom, was of this group particularly expressive.
The cowboy dances, as Mr. Shaw explained, have no fixed form, but have combined the best and the most appropriate from the European folk-dances, the Kentucky running set, the Tennessee square dance, and the New England quadrille. With wild whoops the boys swung their ladies through the figures, causing considerable amusement over the Veterans' Dance, and the square dance in which they imitated beginners and professors as well as doing it in their own perfected manner.
The spontaneous enthusiasm of Swarthmore students in the gym after the Clothier program best indicate the success of these dancers. Their excellence as performers, however, lies not only in the fun of watching and participating in their dances, but also in the finish and precision of their every step and swing.
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