History and Mission of CSCTA

History of Square and Round Dancing in Czech and Slovak Republic

Country music and country dances have a long tradition in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As soon as before the World War 2nd, many of our famous or unknown authors have tried to compose their own songs. They took their inspiration from popular American country melodies. Due to the fact that more and more bands and singers have let themselves to be influenced with this style of music, folk and country music is very popular in this country nowadays.

Together with an expansion of country music, groups of people trying (more or less successfully) to dance and propagate country dances in public were coming to existence. Particular dances were looked for in old manuals, imported from abroad, many dancers invented their own calls. At that time, the current Old Time Style was danced. In late 80's there were several dozens of country dance groups in Czechoslovakia. It is interesting that as soon as at that time some of square dance singing-call recordings (e.g. Rosalie's Boat or All My Roads) came to this country. However, nobody was able to distinguish between Old Time Style and modern Square Dance. All the dancers' eyes got opened by the dance group Caramella led by Jiří "Jeff" Vašák, who as the first one obtained a textbook of modern Square Dance and in summer of 1988 made a trip to Munchen to visit the Dip-n-Divers club. This club, together with its caller Toni Sedlmayr, repayed the visit with coming to Prague in spring of 1989 to support the effort of Caramella in learning Square Dance. At the beginning of the next year, on January 17th, 1990, 25 dancers from Caramella were graduated for the first time by Toni. Although many other clubs visited Czechoslovakia at that time, great thanks go especially to Dip-n-Divers for their work, fullfilling the idea of 'friendship and fun'.

After mastering Mainstream in Caramella, the club started to introduce Square Dance to other country dance groups as well. Jiří "Jeff" Vašák became the first Square Dance caller in our country, Vláďa Bartoň, another member of Caramella, was the second one. As soon as in autumn of 1988, a group of people started to attend dance lectures held by Caramella. They were the bud of later M-Separate club. At that time, dancers from two clubs (M-Separate Praha, Petronella Bratislava) got their graduation from Jeff. Square Dance enlarged upon the country dance clubs. Jeff initiated establishing the CSAS - club association on September 1st, 1990 (before this, in May 1990, he initiated publishing of ZOOM - bulletin of Czechoslovak Square Dance; Jiří Rogalewicz undertook this after Jeff in 1991). The goal of CSAS was to present Square Dance in our country and to support establishing clubs. Jeff acted as President for one year, Vlado Grežo from Petronella Bratislava was elected to relieve him. However, he did not have time enough, and in the time of himself being President, the association folded.

As soon as in the time of the association folding, many people discussed whether the existence of such association is meaningful. In last few years, many people say "yes, it is". Except for CSCTA, there would be another subject here to propagate Square Dance. Unfortunately, among the club presidents in Czech and Slovak Republic no one came up being able to implement this idea.

At least three events from the first period shall be mentioned. Petronella and Vlado Grežo organized the so-called Guiness Country Ball using radio broadcast for an attempt to reach a world record in number of dancers dancing at the same time to one live caller's calling in 1990. This attempt took place at 36 dances in 33 cities concurrently. At the end of May 1991, the club association together with Caramella organized Prague's Calling - a dance at Žofín in Prague. It was attended by 250 dancers from our country and 250 dancers from abroad. Seven local performers presented themselves there besides callers and cuers from Germany and USA. At that time, this was the biggest dance in our country. The third one to be mentioned is Summer Jamboree, which was organized by M-Separate in 1992 and which became an unforgetable dance for many dancers from abroad. The attendance of 1700 dancers contributed to the success of this dance. This number became a record attendance at European Jamboree for a long time.

History and Mission of CzechoSlovak Callers and Teachers Association

In the period of club association folding, the idea of establishing an association for callers and cuers to create an information channel bringing news from abroad, to organize schools and seminaries for its members and to communicate with abroad callers and cuers associations, engendered. Most of the callers, calling in our country at that time, did not have anybody to learn from, they developed individually on the basis of their own experience. One exception was a visit by Rusty Russell, an American caller coming to call at the first special dance of M-Separate in autumn of 1990 as well as to organize a seminary for our callers, at which they could hear terms like sight calling, memory calling etc. for the first time.

A preparatory meeting attended by 19 callers and cuers took place on September 26, 1992. This meeting started a preparation of articles of the association, economy directions, code of ethics and a preparation of an official registration of the association. It set the date for the first constituent convention as well, which was attended by 24 callers and cuers in Strancice u Prahy on November 7, 1992. They became the constituent and the first members ot the association, which got the name CzechoSlovak Callers and Teachers Association (CSCTA). Jiří Rogalewicz became the first president and stayed in this function till spring of 1997. First contacts were established with other European associations (ECTA, SACT) and with CALLERLAB. Thanks to the enterprise of Jiří Rogalewicz, goodwill of Al Stevens and financial support of CALLERLAB and Supreme Audio, the first one-week-lasting callers school could take place in autumn of 1995 in our country.

CSCTA participates (always in cooperation with one of Czech and Slovak clubs) on organizing the Convention - a big dance, in the frame of which a convention of CSCTA takes place. The first Convention was held by North-Moravian club Cloverleaf in Opava on April 9-11, 1993. An average attendance at one Convention varies between 150 and 450 dancers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and abroad (there is about 1000 dancers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia at present time).

Since 1995, CSCTA has been distributing Square Dance textbooks to dancers in all of our clubs. Great thanks go to František Vlček for translating Basic and Mainstream definitions into Czech, sketching pictures and providing production of the textbook.

In 1997, at the Convention in Zliv, Jiří Ščobák was elected a new president. In autumn of 1997, a public campaign took place in the Czech and Slovak Republic under the bulwark of CSCTA, Square and Round Dance was spoken about in various media. CSCTA enlisted in establishing several dances for Square and Round Dance students. CSCTA started to communicate with other associations about caller exchange, opened negotiations about attendance of our callers and cuers at the European Convention in Sweden in 2000.

In spring 1997, the president and caller of the club Lariat Praha, Míla Malý, organized an enquiry. 477 dancers from 35 clubs responded. The enquiry concerned e.g. number of dancers in our clubs, their age distribution, level that they danced etc. Another enquiry took place in 1999.

At the CSCTA Convention in 1999, Martina Häuserová was elected a new President of CSCTA. After her, David "Medvěd" Dvořák (2002-2003) and Petr "Heart" Dušek (2003-2005) have been serving as the President of CSCTA. In 2005, Jiří Rogalewicz was elected again. In 2008, the position of President was taken by Tomáš "Doug" Machalík.

It can be said that CSCTA (resp. people working in it and for it) have gone a long way and have done a lot of work since its establishing. From its first sheepish steps, when we were trying to find what could an association do for its members and to see how to do it, to the nowadays state, when seminaries and callers schools take place regularly, each member gets regular input of technical information in his mail and the association library contains hundreds of items. At any time, there is something to improve, and we constantly try to and want to try to. But it is not the history of CSCTA any more. It is the future.

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