Star by the Right: Silverton hosts regional Teen Square Dance Festival

April 2019 Posted in Community, School, Sports

Hayden Forster and Jasmine Mauro practicing at last year’s Fun Dance. Photos by Jim Kinghorn

By Melissa Wagoner

Square dancing sometimes gets a bad rap, according to Karyn Buchheit. But she and her troupe of 16 Silver City Squares – ranging in age from 10 to 21 – are determined to change all that.

“This is nothing like what your grandparents did,” Karyn explained. “This is nothing like PE class. Your preconceived notions – the kids at competition are going to blow them out of the water.”

That competition is the Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival taking place on Saturday, May 4 beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Silverton High School.

“People should come and get inspired,” 16 year-old dancer Benjamin Rudolph, advised. “It’s enjoyable and sort of relaxing. It’s a dance almost anyone can do.”

In fact, most of the Silver City Squares started out dancing with their families.

“My family has a bit of a history with square dancing,” Silver City Squares member, 10 year-old Jasmine Mauro, said. “My dad and I took lessons and I loved it.”

“It’s probably the cheapest family activity you can do,” Karyn added. “The lessons are $4 per family.”

Although the lessons and dances are open to any age, Karyn has noted a decrease in attendance of kids during the past few years.

“If we don’t get more people interested, we’re going to lose our state dance,” she asserted. “And these kids are tired of dancing with old fogies – a lot of folks can’t keep up with the kids.”

But Karyn is convinced that if more members of the community attend a dance, like the evening Fun Dance at the Teen Square Dance Festival; they will see that both the dancing and the music are fun. 

“It ranges from your old-time country and folk to pop,” she said. “There’s a lot of early ‘60s, soft rock and Beach Boys.”

And it’s not just traditional square dancing that takes place at these competitions. Other categories include calling, the person who prompts the dancers; cueing, which is similar to calling but with the moves memorized; and round dancing, a style of dance similar to ballroom dancing.

“I like the different formations and different choreography I can do with the same moves,” senior caller 21 year-old Thomas Buchheit explained.

With five teams competing in this year’s competition – two from Canada and three from Washington state – Karyn anticipates an attendance of over 600 people. 

“I encourage people to come and support the kids,” she urged. “These kids have put a huge amount of work into it. And they’re very cute on the floor.”,

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