North Texas Traditional Dance Society

Based in Dallas, Texas, NTTDS promotes understanding and appreciation of American folk dancing, its music, its history, and related folklore. We are a group affiliate of the Country Dance and Song Society.

History Summary

Detailed History

This was written by Maureen Moore and Kirk Hunter in March 1990. Some of it appeared in the May/June 1990 and July/August 1990 newsletters. The initial Board of Directors and Membership lists are from the first newsletter of September 1986.
NOTE: Martha Skalnik married Ray Quigley in 1997, so is now known as Martha Quigley.

Pre-NTTDS (1983-1985)

Monthly dances for members of the Lone Star State Dulcimer Society (LSSDS) had been going on for some time when Maureen Moore, having recently left Michigan dancing behind, and Kirk Hunter, fresh from fiddling for dances in Austin, came on the scene in 1982. The dances were held after the LSSDS monthly meeting, dulcimer workshops, and pot-luck in Plymouth Park United Methodist Church in Irving, on the second Saturday of each month.

Dulcimists Dana Hamilton and Annette Lindsey called these dances to 20 - 25 LSSDS members while many dulcimers played dance music. Maureen simply suggested to Dana that they advertise a little, open the dances to the public, and see what would happen.

The result was a community dance on February 12, 1983 from 7 to 9 pm, with about thirty dancers, a dozen musicians, and three callers. All of these were pretty new in their respective roles, but no one seemed to mind. The feeling of a new adventure pervaded the hall. A tradition was born, which has continued monthly ever since.

The dances continued and prospered for over a year as part of the second Saturday LSSDS meetings, usually at the church in Irving, with a $1.00 donation being requested. The number of dancers increased to around 50, while the mailing list reached 200.

The first Christmas Dance was held December 12, 1983 at the Fretz Recreation Center in Dallas. The only real problem was a lack of consistency with dates and locations due to occasional conflicts with church activities. Linda and Wesley Thompson, who were LSSDS President and Treasurer at that time, kept up with the finances of the dances.

The first callers were: Maureen Moore, Dana Hamilton, Carl Dreher,and Maria Terres-Sandgren.

The first musicians were: Kirk Hunter, Russell Cook, Carl Dreher, Dana Hamilton, Linda Baker, Maria Terres-Sandgren, David Lindsey, Chris SoRelle, Linda Thompson, Sandy Lively, Kevin Alewine, Kate Horne, Betty Odum, Al Christians, and numerous others.

The early dancers, although they seemed to appear out of thin air, actually were drawn heavily from the LSSDS, various International Folkdance groups, especially the Dallas Folkdance Co-op (now the Dallas International Folk Dancers), and newcomers who spied the notice in the newspaper, many of whom had done country dancing in other areas of the country. The main publicity was word of mouth.

Moving to White Rock Lake

On June 15, 1984, the dances moved to Winfrey Point on White Rock Lake in Dallas, where reservations could be made a year in advance. The dances were changed to the third Saturday of the month from 8 to 11 pm. Even though the dances were now a separate activity from the LSSDS meetings, they were still an LSSDS function. For the next two years, the dances continued to grow, even though there was no additional publicity.

Several new people began calling dances: former New England dancers Martha Skalnik and Peter Lamborghini, and future New England dancer Louisa Barnes. The number of dancers varied from 50 to 100, with the Christmas Dances peaking at 130, while the mailing list grew to about 400! The organizing, the calling, and the band began to jell.

The band was still a "pick-up" band, with both familiar and new faces showing up for each dance. The number averaged around a dozen, once as many as 19! Under Kirk Hunter's leadership, the band started having practices and learning a common repertoire of tunes. Additional band members joined the old guard: Richard Chance, Slim Richey, Mimi Rogers, Joe Phaneuf, Donald Lively, Ray Quigley, Dan Herlihy, Mike O'Leary, Jeff Hittson, and others.

In addition to the monthly Community Dances, a few other things started to happen during this time:

Becoming the NTTDS (1986)

By 1986, the dance group had developed itself into a nearly separate group from the LSSDS, with a different focus, different goals, and serving almost different populations. The dancers and the band included LSSDS members, but the majority were attracted to the dances for their own sake, not through the LSSDS. The LSSDS was at this time serving primarily a clerical function for the dances: paying the bills and accepting the funds. Any profit from the dances went to the band members, each of whom usually took home about $5. the dances were truly a non-profit event! Finally, in February 1986, it was mutually decided by the two groups that it was time to form a separate dance organization.

So... on February 23, about 18 interested supporters of the dance movement gathered to discuss the possibility of forming a dance organization. The next few months were a flurry of organizing activities, a multitude of meetings, plenty of excited discussions, investigations, consultations, and decisions. By May 1986, a full set of by-laws was completed, the initial Board of Directors was selected, and the group was incorporated with the State of Texas as the North Texas Traditional Dance Society (runner-up names were the Bluebonnet TDS and the Trinity River TDS). By September, the first officers were selected, the first memberships were accepted, the first membership meeting was held the first newsletter was published, and the new by-laws and policies were placed in effect. The NTTDS also became a center for the national dance organization Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS). Through CDSS, federal non-profit status was obtained under IRS Code 501(c)(3).

Initial Board of Directors

Louisa Barnes, Vici Butler, Ken East, Dan Herlihy, Kirk Hunter, Peter Lamborghini, Donald Lively, Sandy Lively, Maureen Moore, Morris Morgan, Martha Skalnik, Susan Picheloup, Patti Plemmons, Carrol Richardson, Mimi Rogers, Tina Shenk.

Initial Members

Leah W. Alberga, Arkansas Country Dance Society, Juanita and Bruce Babcock and family, William J. Babler, Louisa Barnes, Joe Barziza, Mike Bialas, Sandra and Patrick Blackard, Jimmy Boyer, Tamara Brinkman, Danny Bryant, Harry Corder, Mary Therese D'Avignon, Paul C. Dechow, Delores and Joe Delgadillo, Mark Dressendorfer, Harold Ernst,John Evans, Mike Firth, Tim Forston, Carlyn Gordon, Kirk Hunter, Bob Kraemer, Emily Leland, Sandy, Don, and Jay Lively, Glenn Manuel, Morris Morgan, Maureen Moore, Pat McMenamin, Betty Odum, Caroline Rasor, Carrol Richardson, Mimi Rogers, Tina Shenk, Carol Silverstrom, Martha, Peter, and Penny Skalnik, Linda Strem, Polly Tarr, Susie Thennes, Wesley and Linda Thompson and family, Gail Tomlinson, Jean Wasroski.

The Early Years (1987 - 1990)

Becoming an organization allowed responsibilities to easily spread out to may instead of a few. It also generated new involvement, energy, ideas, and activity among the dancers.

New Dance Events:

In February 1987, the First Friday of the month membership meetings began at Carl Dreher's garage apartment. They were free and included a membership meeting, workshop (given mostly by members), and open dancing and calling. Their purpose was to encourage members' dance growth and leadership skills and to provide a more intimate social dance setting. The were originally organized by Maureen Moore and later by Vice Presidents Martha Skalnik, Frank Jordan, and Kat Krone. The meetings later moved to the Dreyfus Club, then the became pure dance events (no membership meeting), then moved to the First Saturday.

May of 1987 saw the first MayFaire, a day-long English-flavored festival, which included a Processional, a May Pole dance, workshops, dance demonstrations, concerts, skits, and other activities, ending with an Evening Ball. Organizers in 1987 included Peter Lamborghini, Martha Skalnik, and Mimi Rogers. In later years, Carl Dreher, Ruth Izraeli, Ben Watson, and Mary Courtney joined the organizing effort.

In October 1987, the first Halloween Costume Dance party was held, which has turned out to be an almost annual event. Martha Skalnik, Vici Butler, Mimi Rogers, Kat Krone, Joe Barziza, and Linda Mrosko have been other organizers of this event.

Fifth Saturday dances, organized by Martha Skalnik, became a new tradition, and were held in various locations, including Waxahachie, before settling down to the standard Third Saturday dance location.

More workshops came to NTTDS. Carl Dreher presented two day-long contra dance workshops, one of which was assisted by Laurie Andres, a nationally known accordion player. Laurie also directed a musicians workshop while he was in Dallas. Renowned English dance teacher Pat Talbot came to Dallas and presented day-long English dance workshops on two separate occasions, once in conjunction with the 1989 MayFaire. In July 1989, Martha Skalnik and Dwayne Johnson shared the teaching of a New England Classics contra dance workshop to the music of "Terry and the Pirates", a band imported from Houston.

Old Dance Events

In June 1987, Martha Skalnik and the newly formed Dance Committee took over the organizing and calling of the Community Dances from Maureen Moore, who had performed these functions up to this time. Maureen decided to run off and join the band with her new husband Kirk Hunter, while Martha ran off with the dances, bringing in new energy and ideas to this continuously successful activity. In 1988, Carl Dreher took on the Christmas Dance, adding class and elegance never before seen.

Moving Forward

Kate Horne's logo design was selected from 10 entries in the 1987 NTTDS Logo Contest, and became the official logo of the NTTDS which still appears in the newsletter and on T-shirts. Kate's logo also received recognition from CDSS and was published in the CDSS national newsletter and the 1990 CDSS Calendar.

The band officially decided on a name, "The Winfrey Point Volunteers". In 1987, band members decided to pool their monthly dance income to buy a sound system for the NTTDS. In 1989, they used their savings to purchase a new multi-channel sound system.

NTTDS dancers and musicians performed at various events in the DFW area, including Old City Park Candlelight Tours, the Heritage Craft Days Festival, LSSDS Winterfest, and others.

In November 1987, the newsletter took on a professional appearance and a new name "Balance and Swing" with Kate Horne's help in layout.

Child care was instituted at some NTTDS events, especially the Community dances.

The NTTDS has developed relationships with other dance groups in this region, particularly groups in Oklahoma City, Houston, San Antonio, and Little Rock. This resulted in the regular exchange of dancers, callers, workshop leaders, and musicians. Within the North Texas area, the NTTDS has also benefited from the mutual support and opportunities offered by local dance groups, such as the Caledonian Scottish Dance Society and International Folkdance groups, such as the Dallas Folkdance Co-op (now known as Dallas International Folk Dancers), and others.

Some NTTDS members have spread out even farther by attending various weekend or week-long dance camps in the far reaches of the US: Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, New York, Alabama, West Virginia, etc., bringing back new dances, music, styles, and enthusiasm. A favorite activity of many NTTDS dancers has remained the workshop in Mountain View, Arkansas, and has also come to include the Twelfth Night Ball in Little Rock, both sponsored by the Arkansas Country Dance Society.

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North Texas Traditional Dance Society is a 501(c)(3) organization with registered offices in the State of Texas.
How to contact NTTDS:    972-546-8858    OR       OR    PO Box 820203, Dallas, TX 75382
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