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Description and History

     The colorful "Dirndls" twirl into the arms of the Lederhosen-clad "slap dancers" and the audience claps to the toe-tapping melodies that accompany these artistic and fun-loving entertainers.  Over the past 70 years, audiences all over the United States and Canada, as well as Europe, have enjoyed the colorful and talented performers of S.T.V. Bavaria.  No group is too small or too large to enjoy the musical interpretations put on by the Schuhplattlers, whether it's a courtship, occupational or show dance.

     Schuhplattling in Cleveland dates back to the early 1920's when four couples joined the German-Austrian singing society "Blau Donau" and became part of their organization, performing folk dances at German Civic functions in and around the city. As the group began to grow there were many changes, with occasional retirements and the addition of new and interested families. As a result, a children's group was orgainized in 1931 to help perpetuate the traditions of their German and Bavarian heritage. As the younger members bacame more accomplished in the various folk dances and assumed a more strenuous dance load, the older members turned their skills to performances of Alpine music and song. Together they formed the Schuhplattler und Bauerngruppe Blaue Donau to give credit to the combined activities.

     During the difficult war years of the 40's, most of the men in the group were in active service and it was up to the women together with the younger couples to keep the group together and active. But by 1947 club attendance re-attained pre-war levels. The ever popular Figurentanz and Watschenplattler became part of the repertoire of intricate and popular dances. In the summer of 1952 several members of the group decided to retire from active participation, and at a Trachtenfest at the German Farm, their final performance was witnessed by recent arrivals from Germany. Impressed by the Trachtlers performance, these young couples under the leadership of Louis and Rose Tuma and Gene Rapp, became a part of the re-organization of the dance group and brought with them a new wave of enthusiasm for perpetuating the traditions and culture of the Old World. Many of these couples are still taking an active part in the dancing and social acitivites of our club today. The functions at which the group performed were very diversified. In August of 1961, the dancers had the pleasure of performing on board the S.S.Aquarama - the Lake Erie cruise ship, sailing between Cleveland and Detroit. Ski resorts such as Boston Mills also provided an exciting background for these Alpine performers.

     In January of 1966, a meeting was held with the various Schuhplattler groups who hailed from the U.S. and Canada who wanted to unite in fellowship and emphasize Schuhplattler dancing - thus forming the Gauverband Nordamerika. Along with the formation of the national organization, the bi-annual convention and dance competitions were originated. It was at this time the Schuhplattler und Bauerngruppe Blaue Donau felt the need to disassociate itself from the parent singing society in order to further its aims in folk dancing. On October 21, 1966, the members voted to become independent and remain in the Gau. Thus, the Schuhplattler und Trachtenverein "Bavaria" as it is known today, was named and formed.

     In 1968 as our group began expanding its horizons, the members decided, upon returning from a Fahnenweihe in Buffalo, that they too would like to acquire their own club flag and dedicate it with all the proper honors and ceremony. This great milestone in our club history, our Fahnenweihe, became reality in May, 1972, when with the aide of our Patenverein Edelweiss-Detroit, we dedicated our flag at St. John's Cathedral.. About 1200 dancers and guests came to Cleveland to help us celebrate this monentous occasion. During the same year, Steve Bencic started the Oktoberfest here in Cleveland where our "Bavaria" group continues to entertain hundreds of thousands of people every Labor Day weekend.

     1973 was an eventful year for our dancers when they attended the 4th Gaufest in Washington, D.C. and placed first in one of the most memorable events in our club history. Since that first time, "Bavaria" has brought back home to Cleveland 7 gold medal awards and various other honors displaying their expertise in their gift of dance.

     Through years of friendship with the plattlers from our neighboring state of Pensnsylvania, we were very pleased when we were asked by the Alpen Schuhplattler und Trachtenverein, Pittsburg to sponsor them at their flag dediction in 1982 as their Patenverein.

     The Bavaria group to this day is comprised of a young children's group and a teen-age through adult dancer group. All members remain enthusiastic about this unique form of entertainment. Dances are still done from the various areas of the Tyrol in Europe and performed in the beautiful costumes or "tracht" which are authentic dress from an area where the dances originated.  Other musical talents in the groups' organization include singers and instrumentalists who help to put the whole picture into perspective. We presently meet at Donauschwaban's German-American Cultural Center for choir practice on Mondays and dancing on Fridays.

     For family entertainment at its best, the Schuhplattler dancers appear at a variety of functions providing Cultural enjoyment for audiences in all different areas and interests.  Join us at S.T.V. Bavaria's next performance. Come bring your family and friends and see if they don't all agree that it was an afternoon or evening worth attending.

(c) Copyright 2006 Schuhplattler und Trachtenverein Bavaria