Dancing gives kids extra confidence
It’s the music, maybe. Or the fun. Or the dancing. Or the big smiles on everybody’s face.
Whatever it is that attracts people to square dancing, about 1,000 of them were at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley, Colo., last weekend for the 54th Annual State Square Dance Festival.
There was a theme this year, “Safari Swing,” highlighted by names like the Lion’s Den and the Gorilla Room, the Giraffe House and the Oasis.
To many at the convention, square dancing has had an important influence on their lives. Sherry Angus of Greeley is the secretary for the Merry Mixers club, and she said the dancing has changed her life.
“I was a kind of shy and didn’t meet people very easily,” Angus said. “It was outside my comfort zone, but decided to try it anyway. They made me feel welcome, more confident, and I had instant friends.”
Angus pointed out that square dance is an American dance that has participants around the world. The calls – to tell the dancers what move to make next – are always in English, even when they dance overseas.
For the Hoover family of Cheyenne, Wyo., square dancing has become a way of life. They have 11 children, all home-schooled, and three years ago the kids, still at home, began dancing.
“We have eight family members who square dance now,” said the mother, Evva Hoover. “We practice at home and dance four nights a week.”
Royal Hoover, age nine, came to the convention with his brothers and sisters, Liberty, Jubilee, Justice, Noble and Cherish. They danced as a family in a Saturday exhibition. “I’m the youngest in the family, but I really wasn’t scared to dance in front of all the people. We’re used to dancing together.”
Evva Hoover said they started dancing because they wanted to do something together as a family, and the mom and dad didn’t want to be on the sidelines, just watching. “For the rest of our lives now, when we visit the kids, we’ll all have something to do together.”
Angus said about 1,000 square dancers and callers attended the weekend convention. It included classes ranging from different dance styles to learning to call dances to understanding the psychology of square dancing.
The convention is hosted by the Northeast Square Dance Council, which includes cities from Fort Collins to the Wyoming and Kansas state lines.