The colors, the beat, the dancing. Watching a Sahawe Dancers performance is an experience for the senses. Sixty-eight years ago, when the Sahawe Dancers began as the Comanche Club Indians—a small group from Boy Scout Troop 81—they likely had no idea what they were starting.
The idea of Joe W. Williams, who had read about a similar program in Colorado, the troop performed their first dance for a Boy Scout Camporee held on the Nueces River south of Uvalde in 1950. That three-minute dance led to calls and requests to dance again, and was followed by an invitation to dance at the Will Rogers Coliseum for 14,000 people. At that time, the population in Uvalde, where the boys were from, was 8,674.
In 1952, the group changed their name to the Sahawe Dancers. Following the death of Williams, the group disbanded in 1959 but they were reorganized in 1962 by Bill Dillahunty, who had danced with the group as a member of Troop 81. Dillahunty led the dancers until his retirement in October 2012, when Ramon Castro took over as leader.
Although the group’s leadership has changed over the years, the entertainment they offer hasn’t. They now perform about 70 shows each year throughout Texas and surrounding states. Dancers learn their craft by studying dances at American Indian events across the country and by referencing a library of books, films and videos. They create all their own costumes, which must be handmade and are based on things they have seen at events and museums.
In addition to fairs and festivals, the Sahawe Dancers also perform Summer Ceremonial dances each July in Uvalde. According to their website, the dancers have been designated as Uvalde’s “Ambassadors of Good Will” and were selected as the town’s top attraction by the Texas Travel Writers. After watching a performance, we can see why.
To book them for an event, or to learn more about their upcoming shows, visit sahawe.com.
March 3: First United Methodist Church in Uvalde: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. dances
April 14: McCulloch County Early Days in Brady
April 20: Relay For Life at the Fairplex in Uvalde
April 27: Dia de Los Niños at the Fairplex in Uvalde
May 5: West Texas Days in Fort McKavett