The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Carolyn Mitchill, teacher of squares and international dance.
Carolyn Mitchill was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Carolyn was introduced to folk dancing at the tender age of four in the Turnverein Germania club in Los Angeles. Her interest thus fanned at an early age, was kept alive through folk dance classes and clubs all through her secondary school and college days. While attending college, Carolyn joined the Hollywood Peasants, an international folk dance group that met at the dance studio of Letitia Innes. A couple of years later the Southern Section of the Folk Dance Federation of California (South) came into being. Carolyn was active in the Federation from the start.
Carolyn's home club always danced both folk dances and squares, but it was not until after Lloyd "Pappy" Shaw brought an exhibition group of round and square dances to Los Angeles that Carolyn developed her great interest in this facet of folk dancing. She first danced in exhibition squares and later went to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to attend Dr. Shaw's classes in dancing, teaching, and calling squares. Carolyn has the distinction of being the first woman square dance caller in Southern California. She is as graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and for many years was a teacher of physical education at Hollywood High School, where she did her best to infect her students with the folk dancing bug.
She taught many groups to square and folk dance, among them the now defunct Griffith Park group, from which came many now well-known folk dance teachers in the Los Angeles Area. Another group that flourished under her guidance was at the Naval Officer's Club of Santa Monica.
Carolyn's folk dancing career was an extremely active one, including being a member of the International Dance Circle. For several years she chaired the very well organized Research and Standardization Committee of the Federation, laying some of its still used foundations of procedure. Carolyn was chairman of the Idyllwild Folk Dance Workshop committee for several years and also taught at Idyllwild, as well as at the Santa Barbara Folk Dance Camp and the Stockton Folk Dance Camp. She was also involved in both the formation of and teaching at the first Teacher Training Seminar held in Southern California. Carolyn was a consultant for the Los Angeles Board of Education in their production of the "Folk Dances from 'Round the World" record series, which is used in the Physical Education Departments of all Los Angeles County Schools.
In her spare time Carolyn indulged two hobbies that complimented each other: photography and travel. In 1960-61 she spent 14 months touring Western Europe. She hated to end that trip, but said she had to come back to work to earn enough money to go on another trip.
Dances Carolyn taught include Alexandrovska, Beseda, Caballito Blanco, Ersko Kolo, Hineh Ma Tov, Korobushka, Maciek Kujawiak, Nebesko Kolo, Newcastle, Nigun Mixer, Oslo Waltz, Ranchera, Spanish Waltz, and St. Bernard Waltz.
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