Please join us for the 63rd Annual Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival
May 4th & 5th in Renton, Washington at:
Hazen High School
1101 Hoquiam Ave NE
Renton, WA 98059
to volunteer please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 PNTSDF Coordinator
1997 - 2009 Awards Listings
Link's To Teen Photo Albums
2001 Photos from P.N.T.S.D.F. 2001
2000 Photos from P.N.T.S.D.F. 2000
from P.N.T.S.D.F. 1997
(Adapted from an article by Elaine Jacobsen, Port Coquitlam,
British Columbia, Canada)
The Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival is a Canadian-born competitive festival first introduced in May of 1950 in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. In that year, the Public Relations Director of the Vancouver Sun Newspaper, Jack Hutchings, decided that a festival would be a good activity for the Teen Town movement to sponsor. Taking on the project would be the Fraser Valley Teen Town Association, a member of the Teen Town Council Program, which provided various activities for teens in the 1950's and 1960's.
The first Festival was held on May 6, 1950, at Haney, B.C., now known as Maple Ridge. Sixteen teams were entered and the Grand Champions were The U.B.C. "Thunderbirds." The building used for the first Festival was a tiny agricultural hall that had to serve over one hundred contestants.
The first entry from the United States of America was from Seattle, Washington, in 1954. The early competitions and trophy plaques were dominated by "U.B.C.," "Stardusters," "Swingettes and Ex-Swingettes," "Tamaracs" and some names still familiar today: the "Wesburn Wranglers," and, from the United States, the "Jeans-N-Queens" and the "Mavericks."
Early Festivals were organized and subsidized by the Vancouver Sun Newspaper and the Teen Town movement. During the mid-1960's square dance leaders took over the responsibility for organizing the Festival and the words "Teen Town" were dropped from the title. In later years the Festival came under the jurisdiction of the Fraser Valley Square Dance Association. In 1975 the Festival was held for the first time outside of Canada in the Seattle area of Washington State.
Over the years, there have been entries from Edmonton, Alberta, Penticton, B.C., Victoria, B.C. and the State of Oregon. The majority of entries, though, come from Washington State and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. From its start in Haney, the festival has been held at numerous locations. The British Columbia locations include Langley, White Rock, Chilliwack, Penticton, New Westminster, Burnaby, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Hope, Cloverdale and Ladner. The Washington State locations include Burien, Marysville and Seattle.
The Festival's purpose is to provide the opportunity for young people up to the age of twenty-three to meet and participate in round dancing, square dancing, calling and exhibition dancing. The competitive categories and levels range from novice, for first time entries, to very challenging. There are over sixty-five trophies and awards with every participant recognized.
The Festival Rule Book states: "It is not how much you know about square dancing that is important but how well you can do those things." Each Festival features young people with a contagious enthusiasm for "showing their stuff" and being the best that they can be.
From the first Teen Festival in 1950 that saw just over one hundred dancers crowded into a tiny agricultural hall has grown today's Festival. It's considered to be the world's largest teen square dancing activity.
The annual Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival takes place on a Saturday in late April. That whole day is devoted to competition. Whereas it used to be held in just one hall; today, three halls are required to handle a very full day of activity. A Pre-Festival Dance takes place on the Friday evening before but it's just-for-fun and features a panel of teen callers. The atmosphere on that first night is always vibrant with anticipation!
An impressive Grand March opens the Festival early on Saturday morning and is followed by the competitions. The Grand March is quite a sight because the young people parade behind their club banners, beaming with pride, each group dressed in matching attire.
The Festival competition involves participants aged both in their pre-teens (8-12 yrs. old) and teens (13-19 yrs. old). While dancing in pre-teen and teen square dance clubs mostly on a weekly basis, the young people spend extra time in advance of the Festival perfecting their dancing skills and working on special routines.
Each club attending the Festival comes smartly dressed in distinctive outfits. Customized attire is designed and sewn to create a unique look in each year of competition.
In recent years, most entries into the Teen Festival come from British Columbia and the State of Washington but clubs from Eugene, Oregon; Juneau, Alaska and Edmonton, Alberta also participate. Club banners displayed at the event include groups such as:
Wesburn Wranglers, Burnaby
Delta Sundancers, Delta
Buckskin Kids, Seattle
Shirts and Skirts, Everett
2 X 4's, Kitsap County
Tenderfoot Teens, Eugene
Diamond Dancers, Juneau
The Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival operates through an Administration Committee and a Festival Committee. The Administration Committee consists of a Chairperson, a Canadian Vice-Chairperson, a U.S. Vice-Chairperson, a Secretary and a Treasurer. The Festival Committee consists of a coordinator, a Square Dance Chief Judge, a Round Dance Chief Judge and a Chief Scorekeeper.
There are five categories of competition:
1. Square Dancing
2. Square Dance Calling
3. Round Dancing
4. Round Dance Cueing
Each category contains various levels defined by age (8-19), achievement or desire. The Exhibition category allows participants to be up to 23 years of age.
Activities commence very early in three halls simultaneously:
Main Hall--Pre-teen and teen callers are judged while they present a singing call for a display square. The squares are judged as they dance a total of three times, first to their own caller and then to two other callers.
Round Dance Hall--Couples dance two "compulsory rounds" from a pre-teen novice level (phase II) to an advanced level (phase IV).
Patter Hall--All callers with more than one Festival of experience call patter movements to a floor of randomly selected dancers.
Activities continue in two halls simultaneously:
Main Hall--Experienced competitors dance to pre-taped patter calls. These are referred to as "mysteries" that are created by a caller whose identity is not revealed to the contestants. Judging is based largely upon the amount of time that all eight dancers can execute the calls correctly. Each square is timed by five stop watch timer/judges. Midway through this part of the program, square dance caller competitors present their final sets of calling.
Round Dance Hall--Experienced competitors dance "hash" which is pre-taped round dance movements cued by a "mystery caller."
The final part of the Teen Festival takes place in the main hall and begins with the very popular Exhibitions. Usually involving a whole dance club, Exhibitions must contain original choreography performed to any choice of music and style of dance, cued or memorized. An exhibition routine must have no less than eight participants, all accomplished square dancers.
Everyone, regardless of whether or not they understand square dancing, enjoys watching the exhibitions but spectators are advised to secure good seats early.
Following the exhibitions, the round dancers demonstrate their compulsories for those who missed them earlier in the day. Up next are the Windup Dance and Awards Presentation.
To determine the winners, a considerable amount of data from the judges has to be correlated. While the score room attendants finalize the list of winners, a lively dance takes place in the main hall, releasing all that tension and anxiety. Everyone converges on the dance floor, pre-teens, teens, parents and advisors. The day concludes with the presentation of the trophies but the young people still seem to have enough energy left for after-parties before their final good-byes.
Disapproval of competition in the square dance movement has been expressed by some but the positive aspects of the Festival are far greater than the negative. The Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival is an avenue for pre-teen and teen square dancers, square dance callers and round dancers to display their accomplishments, meet new friends and dance within their own age group.
The Teen Festival has been a starting-ground for many of the caller/cuer/teacher/dancer/club executive who keep the recreation healthy. The fact that many adults active in square dancing today share the common experience of having competed in the Festival is evident on both sides of the border.
If you were to attend the Festival as a spectator, without knowing it was competitive, you probably would not even realize that there were trophies to be won. You would see the finest display of square dancing and round dancing done smoothly and comfortably with impeccable timing and styling.
The youth are learning self-confidence and fair play while enjoying themselves and making life-long friends. The onlooker sees a large number of pre-teens and teens involved in a safe recreation while learning how to interact with adults. You also see older teens acting as good role models for the younger participants.
The public is welcome to attend the pre-Festival Friday evening dance featuring teen callers or the full day of competition on Saturday. Your paid admission for Friday and Saturday is designated by wearing a Teen Festival badge which is the primary fund raising vehicle for the event. The badges are available at the door but are also sold in advance through the various teen clubs.
Teen Festival Information, c/o:Helge & Elaine Jacobsen
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