It seemed as though all had been lost for the children and directors of El Fandango, the Walsenburg based student dance group founded in 1938. The non-profit group has been based at the FOX Youth Center Theatre for the last eleven years, but was ousted from the theatre on Wednesday, August 27, as the group reconvened for the school year after a summer off. Monica Birrer of the FOX made it abundantly clear to the students and directors that the Youth Center Theatre no longer wants children to practice in the facility for fear of damage to the costly new digital movie equipment and screen, as well as the rare and valuable Wurlitzer organ, which is currently being restored. The theatre staff also finds it difficult to accomodate practice needs for Fandango, the scaffolding requirements of the organ restoration folks, and the needs of the movie projectionist. Birrer also indicated the theatre is financially stable and has no further need of the group’s rent payments. With no idea where to go, and fearing that the much loved 76 year old dance tradition would be extinguished in Huerfano County, in stepped the heroes of the day. RE-1 Schools Superintendent Mike Moore and the members of the RE-1 School Board have graciously welcomed the dance group to become permanently headquartered for practices and performances in the Washington School auditorium. The children and directors of El Fandango are very grateful to RE-1 for their forward thinking vision, and are thrilled to be in a building with such a supportive and child-centered staff. While the group will miss the FOX, Fandango is proud that over the years it has helped the FOX to become a stable organization through its contribution of around $35,000 to the operations of the theatre through rent, as well as winning a grant for the replacement of the old stage floor. The group also put in innumerable volunteer hours cleaning, and in putting together a workable dressing room in the basement, for the use of all guest performers at the FOX. Fandango intends to now put its efforts toward helping RE-1 realize its dream of making the Washington School auditorium a performing arts venue for Huerfano County’s citizens of all ages, and for any events that need the space.
Part 3 of Benton Canon’s harrowing tale of surviving against all odds by