Bruce BotelhoLocal Hero: Bruce Botelho

Juneau, the capital of Alaska, has a population of about 30,000.

Our latitude provides winter dark that lasts eight long months before this Land of the Midnight Sun gets its incredible summer light back. Juneau musicians and dancers don't mind. Long dark evenings have helped create an amazing dance and music scene for a town our size. We don't brood, pull the covers over our heads and hibernate until spring, no, no, no. We get together with friends and family to dance and sing and play. And I'd like to publicly applaud one Big Reason why this is so.

We have Bruce Botelho as friend, neighbor, and dance buddy. He is our local hero, a man with a passion and talent for dance of all kinds. With his leadership, we have had for many years an ""umbrella"" nonprofit dedicated to the teaching and enjoyment of dances from around the world. Bruce was a founding member of Juneau International Folkdancers, aka JIF. He guided the group through the incorporation process in 1979. He led the JIF performing troupe in the 1980s and 90s. Today he continues both as master teacher for the weekly recreational folkdance program and as longtime president of the JIF board. He applies for and gets grants for JIF and affiliated group projects. And he dances everywhere, every possible opportunity.

Bruce is a natural at fostering close ties among the many dance and music groups thriving here. He attends. He dances. He brings his wife. His friends come too. JIF co-sponsorship and sharing of grant funds among Juneau's dance groups over the years have brought in visiting talent for exciting major teaching events. And the result? The 30,000 folks in Juneau have tons of dance fun. We have contra and old-timey squares and yes, Techno. We have international folk, Scandi, English Country, Scottish, belly dance . We have Ballroom of many flavors. Swing is big. So are Tango, Rueda, Latin of all types. When we elect a new governor, we go to the Inaugural ball and show off our cross-step waltz skill, which Bruce brought to town. And there's more. We have living traditional Alaska Native, Filipino, and yes, Hula. Bruce is the busy bee who cross-pollinates, nurtures.

Search for "Bruce Botelho Juneau" online if you'd like more photos. Wikipedia will fill you in on his professional career details, which includes guiding us through our big oil boom as Alaska's Attorney General from January 1994 through 2002, four terms as Mayor of Juneau, and an active law practice. This same busy public figure is the best of all possible dance buddies. He is our born-and-raised-here Juneau dance hero.

    - Submitted by Carol McCabe