Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Loreley Youth Dancers - History

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The History Of Club Loreley Youth Dancers (1970-2007):

The Loreley Youth Dancers grew from its humble beginnings in 1970 teaching traditional German dances, to the group it is today, known throughout the Region for both its traditional German and jazz performances. Today, the dancers are invited to perform at various Seniors Homes and other events in Durham Region as well as performing at the Club throughout Fiesta Week.

In 1970, Werner Huebner, who taught gymnastics at the German School, formed the first youth dance group at Club Loreley. Werner, along with his daughters Gaetane and Joelle, taught traditional German dances to the kids. In 1972, Guenther Burghardt took over leadership of the Youth Dancers and brought in Brian Smart as the instructor. Brian soon started teaching the girls the Can Can, which they loved to perform.

Hubert Adebar, Peter Stenz and Walter Drews helped form the 1st K.G. Loreley Karneval group in 1973, and at the same time asked Guenther to put together a Dance Group that could perform the Funkengarde. Ossi Sponer joined Guenther in running the group and under their guidance more dancers were brought in and the first Funkengarde was created. They created two dance groups (Die Funken & Die Fuenkchen) and under the instruction of Brian and Sharon Smart, they performed their first Funkengarde with Peggy Burghardt as the Funkenmariechen.

Guenther and Ossi ran the group until 1976. During their leadership, the girls performed at various club functions as well as events like the International Ploughing Matches, the Softball Association Of Canada and the Dance Tournament of Blue-Silver in Toronto. The dance group also participated in the take over of City Hall. This was a yearly tradition initiated by the Karneval Group with City Hall.

In 1974, the Youth Dancers represented Club Loreley at Oshawa’s first Fanfare, later renamed Fiesta Week. Club Loreley and the Youth Dancers have participated in this annual event from the beginning and remain one of the few original participants.

After Guenther and Ossi, George Mulder took over the chairperson’s role for a year or two. It was during this time that the Senior dancers participated in their first competition at the Manoever Ball in Kitchener. In 1978, Hans Torok took over the leadership of the dance group after being convinced by his family to do so. With his wife Henia already involved with the group and his kids dancing, Hans gladly took on the challenge. He went on to run the dance group for several years and expanded it to include a Junior, Intermediate and Senior group. Barb Szabunia replaced Brian Smart as the instructor at this time and ended up being an instructor for the Youth Dancers for more than twenty years.

Watch this video from Manoever Ball in 1976-sorry, no audio!1976 Manoeverball video

Peter Stenz took over the dance group from Hans and ran the group until 1983. During his time as chairperson the three groups were renamed the Kinder, Juniors and Seniors to bring them in line with the other Clubs that performed at Manoever Ball. Denton Grant became chairperson in 1983 and would go on to run the group for an unprecedented twelve years. During the years the group was run by Denton, they continued to perform throughout our community and compete at the Manoever Ball. The group grew again while under Denton’s leadership and a fourth dance group was added. We now had a Kindertot group with children age 5-7. The four groups, Kindertots, Kinder, Juniors and Seniors is the format we still use today.

In 1994, Denton handed the reins to Brian Dimock. Brian ran the dance group for the next 10 years. Brian had an uncanny ability to remember the name of every dancer and every parent from the first day he met them. Over the years, Brian continued a trend started earlier bringing in current or past dancers to instruct the dancers. In 2000, due to a waning number of members in the K.G. Loreley Karneval Group, the Karneval Group was merged with the Youth Dancers.

The new group would be called K.G. Loreley/Youth Dancers. The Youth Dancers Committee members as well as a few club members would become the new Karneval Group for the Club. It was important to keep the Karneval Group or our dancers could not participate in the Manoever Ball moving forward. It was this year that the Funkengarde costumes were changed from the blue and white colours worn since the beginning, to the black costumes with red and gold accents that are worn today. The new look was very well received at competition (Manoever Ball). The jackets and hats for the Karneval Group were also changed to match the dancers costumes.

In 2004, Brian passed the chairperson role over to Holly Henninger who ran the group until 2010. Under Holly’s leadership the group once again danced at other German clubs. These clubs as well as other cultural clubs have been invited to dance at our Club. This has been a great way to share our German Culture with others and allow our members to see the culture and dances of other ethnic groups. We have been able to do this exchange with groups like Odessa Ukrainian Club, The Caribbean Club, Hansa House, Hoofer's Irish Dancers, Sarnia Blau Weiss and Blue Danube.

Holly also breathed new life into the Karneval Group, by taking a more active role in BDKK activities. By being more involved with the BDKK and attending the Karneval events at other clubs, we witnessed the attendance at our Karneval Dance reach numbers we have not seen for years.

When Holly decided to step down in 2009, Jacquie Wannack was elected Chairperson of the dance group and capably ran the group for 3 years. Heidi Lessard then took over for the 2012-13 season. Currently, the newly elected Chairperson of the group is Gabriele Albrecht.

Over the 35 plus years the Loreley Youth Dancers have been in existence there have been many others, besides those mentioned above, who have volunteered their time and energy to make the group what it is today. These volunteers have helped with duties such as fund raising, costume making, book keeping and playing music for the dances, to name a few. A heartfelt thank you from the group to all involved.

The Loreley Youth Dancers would also like to extend its gratitude to Club Loreley and all of its volunteers for their support during the years for without the Club and its volunteers the group could not exist.

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