When Kenny Reese came to St. Petersburg for the first time almost ten years ago it was the beginning of a great success story. There existed already two square dance clubs in Russia, one in Petrosavodsk / Karelien and one in Pskov / Northwest Russia.
However, square dance was also known in St. Petersburg since the early nineties. In 2003 Eberhard Walz had given a one-week seminar for more than 20 dance choreographers teaching them the basic program, but a leader of a square dance group was nowhere in sight.
During one of his many trips Kenny was able to offer an open house in the German-Russian Encounter Centre in St. Petersburg. At this event a lady approached him: the English teacher Svetlana Stern. She wanted to become a caller.
A class started in September of 2005. One year later the club "Palace Square Dancers" was founded. Right after the graduation, in the summer of 2006, Jim Pead and Betsy Waite invited Svetlana to a caller school with Nasser Shukair in Texas.
In 2008 Kenny Reese called at the first "Golden Autumn" special dance in St Petersburg, Svetlana Stern greeted the guests with a traditional Russian welcome ceremony. Kenny was almost moved to tears. He loved the Russian people and they loved him.
Two years earlier he had made it possible for Olga from Murmansk, Sascha from Petrosavodsk and Lena and Lydia from St. Petersburg to attend a caller school in Bad Wörrishofen. At that time Olga had not even been graduated yet. Kenny simply orchestrated a unique and unforgettable graduation ceremony.
In the winter of 2010 Kenny flew to St. Petersburg to give a beginners course for new Russian callers.
In 2011 Kenny wanted to repeat the course. Everybody was very much looking forward to his visit, but his doctors vetoed his plans.
This spring we met Kenny. He was relaxed and cheerful. His youthful charm was unbroken. Spontaneously he promised to call at the 10th benefit special dance for Russia. He always was a giving person, not a taker and especially for Russia he did a lot.
On September 6, 2011 Kenny passed away.
At the opening of the second "Golden Autumn" special in St. Petersburg on September 10, Svetlana Stern and Ken Ritucci asked for a minute of silence for the beloved Kenny Reece. 120 dancers honoured the brilliant caller and great teacher. In Russia he will always be remembered as the gifted, accomplished artist.
Transl: Ursula Kreis