AVC EDELWEISS DANCERS
The dance group began as an idea by Felix Temmel, the past Obmann for the AVC Melody Chor. Felix was the one who contacted people and brought the idea to the Club. He got a hodge podge of talent - new dancers and experienced Schuhplattlers. To help Felix get the idea off the ground he recruited Mark Schulhof and Mark's father. Mark was originally a plattler from Julius Pichler's group (if you ever saw the 1948 movie "The Emperor's Waltz" with Bing Crosby, you would have witnessed Julius' group performing) but it was very hard for Mark to participate in two dance groups so he left Julius' group to dance full time with us. We had a number of founding members, to name a few there was Karl Riedl, Fred Nenninger and, of course, Felix (although Felix did not dance). The group started with approximately 8 couples and they practiced every Tuesday for 2 hours until they felt they were good enough to put on their first performance. Their first performance was at the Austria Vancouver Club. The dancers wore their own lederhosen and dirndls so nothing matched for the first several years. One of the problems the group faced was that the dancers were paid. This caused a lot of friction among the dancers as not every dancer was included at every paying show. After a few years, Mark divided the group into an "A" group and a "B" group (with the A group being better dancers). This just added even more friction. The B group up and left and went and created the Lustigen Enzianer Schuhplattler group at the Vancouver Alpen Club.
In 1981, Maria Hofer (then an Executive of the AVC) approached Mitzi Kersche about creating a KinderSchuhplattler Group. Mrs. Hofer really liked Fred's (Mitzi's son) dancing ability and thought that it would be a great idea to start kids going this. There were plenty of kids to be found and plenty of parents to bring the kids to practice. The group started with 18 boys and girls and everything was going fine until the boys were told to dance with the girls. We had never seen the boys run so fast - they were all hiding under tables and down the hall. The boys and girls finally did dance together and became one of the most demanded of all kids groups in B.C. The Kids' Group maintained its membership for most of its years and, in 1985, as a farewell to the older dancers, the group travelled to Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, and participated in the world's second largest Oktoberfest. It was a gruelling 10 days, with 1 1/2 days off, performing a total of 43 shows which included approximately six dances per show. One cute note is that we received a letter commending us on the well-behaved children on the flight home - little did the other passengers know that it was because the kids were so exhausted. The KinderSchuhplattler Group folded in 1989 due to a lack of interest and it is hoped that in the next few years we will be able to start up another kids group made up of our own children.
Back to the adult dance group. Over the years with the growth of the dance group, the lederhosen and dirndls eventually all matched. The women had blue dirndls with extensive embroidery on the hem made for them. This was in approximately 1983. Some problems are never solved and there was still trouble in the group concerning money and personality clashes. In the end, it was decided that Mark should leave the group. This left the group feeling deflated and rejuvenated at the same time. There were mixed feelings about the break but in the long run it worked out for the best. It was now being led by Mitzi as Obfrau and Fred as Vorplattler. The group grew under their strong leadership and dedication to the teaching of the dance. Many new dancers had come in the last few years and the group was holding steady. It was then decided that the women would buy another dirndl - this time in red. The running of the groups, both adults and kids, was a drain on Fred and Mitzi and, in 1987, they retired from dancing.
In 1986, our group started having trouble with the recruitment of new dancers. We were low on men and the Lustigen Enzianer were short on women. We decided to start working together for the benefit of both dance groups. We alternated practices between their hall and our hall and, in our eyes, we got to be one large group and family. Unfortunately, not everybody saw it that way. We are sorry to say that belonging to both the Austrian and the German Clubs became too much of a demand on us and, in 1993, for the survival of the group, we decided to concentrate our efforts at the Austria Vancouver Club.
Our group now consists of approximately 5 couples who dedicate themselves to our weekly practices and numerous shows throughout the year. Currently, we are performing approximately 15 times over the year doing 2 sets of 5-6 dances for each performance. We have also travelled to Austria for a performance tour twice and we have 3 families as part of our Group. We have become not only a Schuhplattler group but also a cultural social group. In the past we have hiked, skied, snow-shoed, camped and barbequed together. We believe that this is one of the reasons that we are so successful in dancing with each other - we are a large extended family.
Over the years the number of members in our group has ebbed and tided. Some years we sport approximately 8 couples and other years it seems we get by with only 4. But no matter how many people we have in our group, we all enjoy being with each other.
We would also like to mention that we are thankful of the support and understanding our spouses have for our dedication to this wonderful past-time and, if it wasn't for them, we might not be as successful as we are.
We would also like to thank the Austria Vancouver Club and all past members of the AVC Edelweiss Dancers who have helped to get us where we are today.
If you are a past dancer and if any of the above does not conform to
please drop us a line with your comments. We will be sure to review them and add them if necessary.