Delaware’s Enzian Volkstanzgruppe celebrates 50 years

Anke Popper of the German Embassy Washington presents the German-American Friendship Award to Brian Schulz, President of the EVTG (second from left), and Tommy Keith, Vorplattler of the EVTG (fourth from left). Also present are Edeltraut Gilgenast of the Culture Committee of the Delaware Sängerbund, and Dr. Carl Renner, President of the Delaware Sängerbund.

“Sitt’ und Brauch der Alten Wollen Wir erhalten.”

If it’s an authentic experience of the Bavarian mountain culture you seek, you needn’t head for the foothills of the Alps south of Munich.

Rather, if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, a more convenient—and less mountainous—destination lies at hand.

Head to the “Deutsche Halle” of the Delaware Sängerbund in Newark, DE (that’s Delaware, not Deutschland!) for a festive dance performance by the Enzian Volkstanzgruppe—the traditional Alpine dance ensemble of the Sängerbund—founded 1853, making it one of the oldest German social clubs in the country.

The Enzian Volkstanzgruppe, or EVTG, founded in 1968, has been keeping the German mountain traditions alive for 50 years now. On Saturday, September 15, 2018, the dance troupe members along with many friends and guests from the Gauverband Nordamerika—the association of 72 member Vereine dedicated to preserving Alpine traditions—gathered to celebrate the 50th “Stiftungsfest” or founding, of the EVTG.

German-American Friendship Award

For an Alpine folk dance group to persevere and thrive in America for 50 years is not a given.

It takes the leadership of committed ambassadors of Bavarian Tracht, music and dance to ensure that these traditions are passed from generation to generation.

For the EVTG, those ambassadors have been the “dynamic duo” of Brian Schulz, president of the EVTG, and Tommy Keith, First Vorplattler (lead dancer), both of whom have shaped the development of the dance group over decades.

As part of the ceremony on September 15, Mr. Schulz and Mr. Keith received the German-American Friendship Award of the German Embassy, presented by Anke Popper of the German Information Center on behalf of German Ambassador to the United States Emily Haber.

The award, given out since 1981, honors outstanding contributions by Americans to the German-American partnership that go above and beyond any standard fulfillment of duties, or activities related to business motives.

For Mr. Schulz and Mr. Keith, who have invested countless hours of personal time in this passion project over many decades, the award was the result of a devotion that began at a young age indeed, noted Ms. Popper:

“Indeed, your engagement began from the very young ages of five and eight, respectively, when you started learning the dances with even much older origins. In so doing, you followed in the footsteps—quite literally, I can say—of your parents, who founded the dance troupe in 1968.”

Following the award presentation in the festively decorated tent, the dancing could begin! And thus the fruits of Mr. Schulz and Mr. Keith’s efforts, and those of the entire Enzian Volkstanzgruppe, contributed to a light mood that all could enjoy.

This mood should continue this weekend as the Delaware Sängerbund welcomes many guests to celebrate its annual Oktoberfest—modeled after the original in Munich. In additional to the Weisswurst, pretzels and “Rollmops”, there will be “continuous entertainment” by none other than—the Enzian Volkstanzgruppe.

For this weekend, then, the spirit of Munich can be found in Delaware!

By Jacob Comenetz, German Embassy

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