Is all of this some sort of a joke or a crazy dream ? No, as impossible as it sounds with virtually no young people participating in Round Dancing in most parts of this country, there really is such a place. The place is the Seattle area.
Doug & Janet Seavy have been teaching Round Dancing to kids between the ages of 7 and 21 for about 11 years. The kids are being coached for dance competitions in the area. Janet said, "After they are 19 years of age they can no longer compete, so my husband and I decided that we would start a group of round dancers called The Dancing Jewels. They travel all over the country performing at numerous National & State Conventions. They also perform for many retirement homes, nursing homes, USA west and anyone who wants to see us. We started it because the kids wanted to continue to dance and there wasn't anything for them. We have approximately 8 to 10 couples of Dancing Jewels. Our group on Sunday is considerably larger. We probably have around 20-24 couples that come quite a distance. Some taking over an hour and half to get there. They are pretty committed and we have a wonderful time working with them." Janet went on to say, "We have been very fortunate that most of our kids place very high at the competition. These young people work very hard. They just did an exhibition for the State, City, National level of Retirees for the Department of Transportation. There were 350 people in attendance. We also performed for the Oregon State Fair (two performances of 1 hour each) this past summer. They have been so well received. If we can raise enough money we want to go to the National Square Dance Convention in Indianapolis in June. They will also be performing at Penticton, B.C. Canada the first weekend in August 1999. They will be in Hoquiam, Washington in February 1999. Most of this depends on funds. It is really hard to raise $43,000 for the entire group to go to the Nationals. It usually runs us $800.00 per person for a National Convention. We sell candy, work at basketball and football stadiums and sell raffle tickets, which we are doing now."
What type of kid would want to Round Dance? Janet says that most of these kids are very busy with 4-H, soccer, baseball, swimming, basketball, and diving. They have so many other activities it is amazing they can find the time to Round Dance. Scholastically they are all pretty intelligent. The kids don't get into trouble because they are far too busy. Many of the young people don't tell their peers they square dance. They tell them they ballroom dance and then it doesn't sound like they are square or like the kids call it - nerds. When the kids are asked why they round and square danced most of them say for fun and to gain long-term friendships.
The positive things the kids get out of Round Dancing are they learn how to dress, and act as ladies and gentlemen. The rules are simple and the kids know what they are right from the start. Even in class they are not allowed to chew gum, wear a hat or dirty shoes, or talk. If they do they have to put a quarter in a pizza jar. Even one of the young people made the jar. " I just expect respect and when people invite us anywhere they are greatly received and they are very mannerly. I don't ever mind taking the kids anywhere. When they get older, are out of their own, and call us to say thank you, I guess we did something right. It is rewarding to see them grow into fine young men and women. They are not afraid to try anything new and to just be who they are no matter what their accomplishments are. It keeps us young as well. We are very close to all the kids.", Janet concluded.
Can interest in Square and Round Dancing be encouraged with young people in other areas? The Seavy's say YES, if you like working with young people. Janet and Doug started teaching young people by coaching just four kids. The Seavy's have demonstrated to the world Round Dancing can be a fun and beneficial activity for the development of young people. Perhaps others may be inspired to duplicate their devotion to young people in other areas.
The Dancing Jewels
This article may be reprinted with no further permission from the authors and/or publications. Permission has been granted in advance for the reprinting with the stipulation that credit be given to the contributing author/publisher.