The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Bettalou (Betty) A. Casey, Square Dance caller, teacher, and author. Betty authored a Folk Dance book titled International Folk Dance U.S.A.
Betty was born June 7, 1916, in Munday, Texas. She attended the College of Industrial Arts (now Texas Woman's University) in 1935, and John Sealy School of Nursing in 1937. In 1941, she married John B. Casey. They lived in Abilene, Texas from 1941 to 1951, when John became a forign service radio engineer for Voice of America, a branch of the U.S. State Department (later the United States Information Agency). They were assigned to Manila, Philippines, where Betty taught American folk dancing at Philippines Women's University. With John and three children, Betty taught and called Square Dancing while she traveled extensively throughout the world, living in Manila, Munich, Tangier, and Hong Kong.
She started a business called Memory Book Writers and wrote numerous biographies of individuals and families. Through the years, Betty won many awards for short stories and non-fiction. As a member of the Author's Guild and National Federation of Press Women, she taught creative writing and hosted writing clubs. In 1980, she traveled 25,374 miles in the United States with her husband while researchng the rich heritage and vibrant practice of folk dancing across the land for the book International Folk Dancing U.S.A.
Formerly a ballroom dancing instructor, she saw her first square dancing at the Cowboys' Christmas Ball in Anson Texas. She got the bug while researching the dance so her Girl Scout troop could earn a folk dance badge.
She had an extensive background in folk dancing. Among the first women callers in Texas, she studied with Dr. Lloyd "Pappy" Shaw, Francisca Aquino, and many others in Europe, Asia, and Africa during twenty years as foreign service wife. She introduced square dancing to Marshall Flippo, America's foremost national Square Dance caller. She called Square Dance at the Brussels World's Fair on July 4, 1958, and the 2nd Asian Games, and her dancers appeared on television programs and in movies.
Hundreds of students of all ages attended her school in Abilene, Texas where her husband and children became square dance enthusiasts. She and her exhibition dance group "The Abilene Lifters" put on a demonstration of special dance steps at the Bicentennial Square Dance Convention in San Diego in 1976.
Over the years, Betty earned a reputation as not only one of few women callers but as one of the top callers in the entire country.
An internationally renowned teacher of square and folk dancing, she participated in folk dance cultural programs from Tangier to Hong Kong and from Manila to Munich for the U.S.O., Military Special Services, North Atlantic Girl Scout Council, Brussels World Fair, embassies and consulates, United States Information Services, television, and movies.
After living in Kerrville, Texas for 17 years following John's retirement from Foreign Service, Betty and John moved to the Denton Good Samaritan (retirement) Village in the late 1980s. Betty was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Denton. She was an active member in the Texas Press Women's Association and in the writers. She continued to write books and articles and to teach both dancing and writing after retirement.
Betty died peacefully on April 11, 2001. Two sets of her Square Dance costumes and ten cubic feet of papers were donated to the Woman's Collection, Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas.
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