Energetic, enthusiastic, and charismatic, Dr. Lloyd "Pappy" Shaw was an innovative educator whose dedication to American folk dance saved an important part of our country’s cultural heritage. He taught high school English and served as principal at Cheyenne Mountain School in Colorado Springs, Colorado between 1915 and 1921, and was superintendent of the Cheyenne Mountain School District for the next 30 years. Always on the lookout for new school activities (rodeos, gliding, a jalopy club...), he searched out old dances of the American people – especially quadrilles, square dances, and round dances from the Rocky Mountain area – and taught them to the students in his school.
Lloyd Shaw’s high-school exhibition team, the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, toured the United States in the 1930s and 40s. Their exuberant exhibitions stirred up great interest in dances which had almost disappeared. Soon Pappy was teaching a series of summer classes to educators and recreation leaders from all parts of the country. His name became synonymous with traditional American dances.
Those who enrolled in Dr. Shaw's classes came back year after year for the his valuable instruction on dancing, teaching, and calling techniques – and for his vibrant teaching style and vast storehouse of knowledge about dance. He generously shared his love for dance and his philosophy about preserving our dance heritage.
The great summer classes continued into the 1950s , influencing many of today's most prominent dance leaders. After Dr. Shaw died in 1958, a nucleus of class members continued to meet each summer; in 1964, they organized the Lloyd Shaw Foundation to perpetuate his memory, his work, and his special philosophy.
“We can crowd the six-lane highways of the dance, doing nothing but the newest and the fastest and the most all-alike, and think it is wonderful,” he wrote to class members on January 5, 1957. “Or we can seek out the by-ways too – the old, the unusual, the unchanged, the lovely, the dearly-loved and long-forgotten, in the tradition and with the love of generations of travelers before us. Keep it simple, I pray you! Keep it rich with eternal fun! Keep your hearts forever sensitive to the past, alive in the present, and the future will be yours with all its blessings.”
In August,1969, Lloyd Shaw’s wife Dorothy wrote about her husband, “Education was his profession and his joy.” She added, “. . . folk heritages . . . are necessary to happy civilizations. But one must go down, back into the past for them, and one must project them into the future. Working with a folk art it is especially necessary to think of what one is passing on to the future that will keep this folk art free, and the civilization free, folk-wise.”
The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, remembering the shining examples of Lloyd and Dorothy Shaw, continues to recall, restore, and teach the folk rhythms of the American people – with joy!