Dorothy and Tom Daw



Dorothy Daw



Dorothy and Tom Daw c1993 Dorothy Daw served a number of roles for the Folk Dance Federation of California, South. Tom Daw performed with Polski Iskry. Both Dorothy and Tom performed with the Gandy Dancers.

As Federation Research and Standardization chairperson for many, many years, Dorothy kept card catalogues listing every dance in every institute and camp syllabus available to her, some dating back to the late 1950s. She also kept two sets of dance notes (her own and the Federation's) for each dance in each of those syllabi and file drawers spread from the couple's house into their garage. More than six bookshelves were filled with dance notes, magazines, catalogues, and costume books. Card files of the syllabi were indexed by country -- another time-consuming task -- with a new twist added when the USSR and Yugoslavia broke into their component parts.

Three record collections and over 100 reel-to-reel tapes were on more shelves, and copies of Federation videos since 1988 were stored in their living room. Costumes, with all their paraphernalia, required three closets and extra cupboards in the garage. And the dining room was taken up with fabric for Polski Iskry costumes.

Of course, additional space was needed for Dorothy's costume-making, embroidery and crochet projects, and for the computer that was dedicated almost solely to folk dance needs.

Tom and Dorothy Daw and dolls Dorothy began folk dancing after her mother took her to a Long Beach Cultural Affairs program in 1961 where they had folk dancing. There she met an old friend, Eleanor Gilchrist, one of the dancers who suggested that Dorothy try it, Then her mother dragged her to a Norwegian dance group. And, Dorothy found there were guys there -- single ones -- one especially -- though nothing ever came of it! Misirlou was part of their repertoire and she thought she would never learn it -- all those turns and crossovers and grapevines.

After she'd danced with the Norwegian group for three or four months, Dorothy was invited to spend an evening with Silverado International Folk Dancers. All of a sudden, Misirlou seemed like kindergarden to her. The dance being taught that night was Red Boots, her first advanced dance, but "she picked it up quickly," said Tom Daw, who was one of the teachers that night. That was the first time the pair met, though it was almost nine years before they married in June of 1970.

Within a year, Silverado had elected her president, and six months later, with all the teachers deserting for the summer, Dorothy found herself, to her dismay, the group's instructor. She went to Gordon Engler's Wednesday night kolo class, learn a dance, and then teach it the following Tuesday at Silverado. Fairly soon, she found herself either dancing or teaching four or more nights a week, including visits to the Long Beach co-op and membership in the Gandy Dancers.

By 1963, Dorothy had become a regular at the folk dance camps, and began collecting syllabi. When she and Tom married, he added his collection, reaching back to his first folk dance days in 1948, and including syllabi from Stockton Camps in the 1950s. By then, Dorothy also realized that she enjoyed writing dance notes. So, since Bob Moriarty, chairperson of the Research and Standardization Committee, moved on, it seemed only natural for Dorothy to take the job.

Dorothy Daw, Researcher, 1993 Dorothy could be found at any camp or teaching venue on the sidelines, taking notes or behind a camcorder, taping the instruction sessions for future use by folk dance teachers. Tom put out funds for the camcorder, as well as for the computer and printer Dorothy used for her dance notes.

In addition to all of the above, Dorothy held several other Federation jobs: member of the Video Committee, responsibility for getting the Federation scrapbooks out before the Statewide festival, and member of the Costume Committee.

Dorothy's and Tom's costume collection was vast, with costumes from Austria, the Canary Islands, Germany, Mexico, Moldavia, Norway, the Philippines, five from Poland (Tom's), Romania, Tunisia, Turkey, the Ukraine, five from Yugoslavia.

Dorothy taught at a Treasurer's Ball Institute in November of 1981 and a Camp Hess Kramer Institute Weekend in October of 1993. She also taught the San Pedro Balkan Dancers weekly.

In the early years, Tom and Dorothy enjoyed water skiing and cross-country skiing. They also spent many happy times camping and backpacking with folk dance friends, and later, motor-homing to various folk dance events, as well as to Yellowstone, Orlando, Carlsbad, and Vancouter (where they saw a performance of Lado). Dorothy and Tom dearly loved to travel. In addition to the usual destinations for Southern Californians, they visited the Czech Republic, England, Hungary, Poland, Scotland, and Dorothy's favorite -- Croatia. This is not surprising, since Dorothy's love of tamburica music was legendary. In later years, they enjoyed cruising through the Panama Canal and across the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth II.

Dorothy passed away Sunday, February 1, 2004, after an all-too-short struggle against cancer. Tom passed on not too long after Dorothy.

Dances Dorothy taught include Unterstierer Ländler, and Yam Hatchelet.

Dorothy Daw Life Celebration