If you go
What: Funtastic Dance Follies
When: 7 p.m. April 25-27; 2 p.m. April 27.
Where: BSU Gymnasium
Cost: Free for ages 2 and younger and BSU and NTC students with ID, $5 general youth admission, $10 general adult admission, $5 for alumni and senior citizens. Tickets available at the door.
BEMIDJI-A campus tradition that goes back to the 1940s will hit the stage at Bemidji State University this week.
This year's edition of the Funtastic Dance Follies is scheduled starting Thursday with four shows at the BSU Gymnasium. It will feature up to 75 performers, most of whom are university students, but also will include young dancers from local studios, BSU graduates and faculty and staff. Shows are at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday as well.
Suzy Langhout is only the third long-term director in the history of the Follies. The late Myrtie Hunt started the event after World War II and directed it until she retired in 1976. Pat Schneider was interim director in 1977. Marion Christianson, Suzy's mother, took over as director in 1978, then handed the reins to Suzy in 1995.
"I grew up with this," Langhout said. "My mom took over the show when I was 11, and I haven't missed a practice or a show since. It's what we know. Every April is Dance Follies. It's a tradition that we would hate to see die. There's not that many things that have been going on more than 70 years consecutively in a smaller town. It's kind of our pet project."
Langhout serves as adviser to the ballroom and swing dance clubs at BSU. She and her husband, Jon (Hondo), own Suzy and Hondo School of Dance in Bemidji.
This year's show will continue the family tradition. The Langhouts' two daughters will be in the show. Daughter Tyra Graham, an elementary education major at BSU, will be joined by her husband, Micaiah Graham, a BSU grad. Tia Langhout and her boyfriend, Ryan Kurtz, also are in the show. Both are BSU graduates.
Young dancers from the Just for Kix, First City Dance Studio and Fusion Center clubs will be in at least one show each.
"You don't have to be in dance to do this show," Suzy said. "It's open to any BSU student, alumni, faculty, staff. Anybody who wants to be in it can be in it. We find a spot for them, wherever they happen to be."
The ballroom dance club is still basking in its success at the National Collegiate DanceSport Championships held March 30-31 in Chicago. Competing against major universities, Bemidji State finished 12th.
"We are without a doubt the smallest university there," Suzy said. "We're tiny compared to the other schools."
The Beaver women's soccer team plans to participate in two of the four shows, and a few other athletes are expected to take part. BSU's dance team will take the stage as well as the swing and ballroom clubs.
"Besides the formal groups, we have kids who just show up, and say, 'I learned to tap dance when I was in high school and I'd love to do a number,'" Suzy said. "We get kids from every major, every year in school. Some are athletes, some are not. When they walk in the door they don't know each other ... by the end of the show they'll all be great friends, because they've worked so hard for a common cause."