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Dance troupe at Woodlands High School aims to keep German culture alive

October 12, 2018

As German folk music filled the space, a few high schoolers in traditional costume took the stage in a gym filled with intrigued students and parents.

The Woodlands High School’s German Folk Dance Troupe performed their dances at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School’s International Day Friday, Oct. 5, and it was clear that they took it seriously.

This is only their fifth year as a troupe, but they’re not amateurs. The past two years, the troupe has taken first place in folk dance at the Texas State German Contest at Texas State University in late February.

Caden Stott, a junior and co-president of the troupe, only started dancing a year ago — even though he said he’s been exposed to German culture while growing up, thanks to his family.

“Almost everybody in the troupe has at least some German ancestry. Celebrating that culture, learning the dances and what they mean is a great thing that shouldn’t be forgotten or pushed under the rug. It’s fun,” Stott said.

Keeping the German culture alive is part of the aim not only for the troupe, but also the entire German program at The Woodlands High School.

Teacher Trina Powers started the troupe when she began teaching there five years ago.

“In Texas, the German dialect is slowly dying. (Dance) is a dying art, and we’re trying to keep that alive as well. What we’re trying to do is keep all of this alive as long as we can,” Powers said.

At the school, they offer a host of German-specific activities to bring the language to life: chorus, polka band and trivia in addition to a German Club and German Honors Society.

German teacher Steven Wynne said they’re also trying to start a theater troupe to expose students to authentic German material rather than structured textbook dialogue.

By doing these things, teacher Laura Dunn said they try to create their own corner of Germany in The Woodlands.

Though the dance troupe lost a few members last year because they graduated, Powers said they’re trying to build back up their existing nine-member troupe.

“We’re recruiting and training. We feel like a football team!” Powers said.

Even so, Powers seemed hopeful that the troupe can strive to win again at the state competition. While the contest is still a few months away, those interested can catch a glimpse of the folk dance troupe around town in the interim.

The troupe is to perform at the first Oktoberfest in The Woodlands Oct. 27 at Town Green Park. Students donning the traditional attire are to take the stage around 12:30 p.m.

The event, organized by Inspire Productions, is to include all things German: including beer, bratwurst, strudel and pretzels.

Until then, the troupe plans to practice twice a week, trying new stunts and steps in German style.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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