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High Country Squares hold dance, graduation ceremony

Holiday season is here in beautiful Pagosa Springs and The High Country Squares will be eating and dancing our way from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

On Nov. 15, we had a Harvest Potluck Dance that doubled as a graduation ceremony. Graduates completed a written test and then a dance test that included a hilarious role reversal (men dancing as ladies and ladies dancing as men). Everyone passed with flying colors.

Eight couples from Monte Vista’s Hi Valli Swingers braved Wolf Creek Pass to join in the festivities. They also had a challenge. Square dance clubs have a tradition of “stealing” and“retrieving” the handmade club banners.

The Hi Valli Swingers had arrived to “retrieve” their banner, but in order to do so they had to dance to caller Jim Park’s increasingly fast and difficult calls without breaking down.

They did a great job. They retrieved their banner and then stole ours! Now our club members will have to brave the pass to attend a Hi Valli Swinger dance and bring home the banner. This is a friendly custom to encourage square dancers to visit the surrounding clubs and enjoy dancing to new callers, make new friends and accrue the floor time needed to improve.

On a personal note, over the last two years of dancing to our local callers and attending numerous regional square dance weekends, I have become interested in calling myself. I attended my first Caller’s College in North Carolina with Jerry Story and Jon Jones and Deborah Carroll-Jones as instructors.

To say that the experience was overwhelming is an understatement. I had as classmates callers from all over the U.S. and all levels of experience. It was fascinating to watch everyone improve so rapidly during the concentrated teaching sessions. Although the curriculum was multifaceted, I particularly enjoyed Jerry Story’s demonstration of his CRaMS (Controlled Resolution and Manipulation System) calling technique and hope to use this in my calling toolbox.

We had a blast dancing with the square dancers around Asheville and Maggie Valley, N.C., who came to our graduation dance and were so incredibly supportive during our training. Great dancers, too! I want to thank our local dancers Jim and Gail Hawkins, Barb and Blair Ball, Shirley and Bob Gardner, Marie Folk and Michael Saunders for helping me prepare for my trip by forming a practice square under the guidance of Jim Park.

December 6 is the last time that we will enjoy dancing to Jim Park and his wife, Fae, as they will leave Pagosa Springs and the High Country Squares to winter in Arizona. We will miss them. Thank you, Jim and Fae, for all you’ve done for our club. In their absence we are in capable hands, however, with local caller Lloyd Husted from Farmington, N.M., filling in over the winter/spring season.

The club offers weekly dances, regional dances and a wonderful sense of community for local and visiting dancers.

For more information about the High Country Squares, contact Lorna Fox at 731-5525.