published in the Signal-Star on October 8, 2013
Three hundred and twenty glittery guests. Opulent décor. Hearty dinners. Decadent desserts. A worthy cause, and ten excited dancers: the makings of one great night.
Dancing With the Stars 2013 arrived with fanfare and met every expectation. Key players from Huron County Victim Services – Jan Vogel, Melissa Wormington and Michelle Millar-Field – looked as good as they felt. This was their night, and it went off without a hitch.
The lovely ladies thank Susan St. Lewis and the Knights of Columbus for the beautifully-decorated hall; Wamby’s Catering; Flashmagic Productions; Dance Techniques for the makeup expertise; Sweets and Treats for the table favours; and the Goderich Fire Department, J’s Bistro and many others for their contributions to the very successful silent auction. Much praise goes to a beautiful woman named Cathy, who brought the audience to its feet with her true story of transformation through the help of Victim Services.
It certainly was a wonderful evening. I, however, will be remembering Dancing With the Stars in a different way.
You see, I got to be a dancer. A bona fide, never-danced-before, pair-me-with-a-professional-and-hope-for-the-best celebrity dancer. I was in good company: Sifto employee and volunteer firefighter Jamie Chisolm, ESTC program co-ordinator and pub owner Stephanie Currie, personal support worker Cidalia Cabral and BMO banker Matthew Hoy were all as fresh-faced to the dancing world as I was.
Do you have any idea what it takes to learn two dance forms, choreograph two routines and perform them for judges (Patty Coulter, Steve Hewitt and Ashley Phillips) and an audience? Timing, posturing, form… rehearsing, responding, relaxing… presentation, expression and yes, extension are all fancy words that mean “work your butt off, and make it look good!” We were scared to death.
We had nothing to fear, however: professional dancers Reanna Ramaker, Les Cook of East Side Dance Studio in Blyth, Ken Scott, Katrina Bos of East Street Station in Goderich and (my personal favourite) Wayne Bos had us well in-hand. These people are like cream: they grabbed us and rose to the top. We became a family of kings and queens enthroned in the green room with butterflies, each awaiting our turn to strut.
Katrina and Matthew stole the show for first place with their tango and waltz/polka. Their contagious energy filled the place with claps, hoots and laughter. Wayne and I impressed ourselves with our Viennese Waltz (to Metallica!) and Cha-Cha (to Cake). We must have impressed the crowd, too: we took second place. Stephanie and Les won everyone’s hearts with their own third-place Waltz and Cha-Cha. What a ball!
And now it’s over.
Let me try to explain what this feels like. It’s the same as when theatre actors finish a run – but most of us can't relate to that. It’s a space on your calendar, a hollow spot in your belly. Like a close friend has moved away, like you’ve stained your best dress.
Wayne knew it was coming, and he knew it would hit me hard. I’m the artistic type, plus I’d poured everything I had into preparing for this competition. Our rehearsals were always filled with breathless laughter, as I wriggled out from under the stresses of the week and focused on strength, grace and beauty. As the final days approached, satisfaction comingled with sadness at the thought of “all this” being nearly over.
I watched the crowd fill the dance floor that night through blurry eyes, wondering at the specialness of it all. Charity, self-awareness, music and dance: four markers of God's image stamped upon humankind, swirling and smiling before my very eyes. I noticed a dark form beside me. He lifted my hand, and we proceeded to the floor for one last celebratory dance.
“Last dance” in one sense. We’re already making plans for more lessons.
DWTS 2013 dancers Les Cook, Stephanie Curry, Matthew Hoy, Wayne Bos, Bethany Davidson, Jamie Chisolm, Reanna Ramaker, Katrina Bos, Ken Scott and Cidalia Cabral cut the cake and pop the champagne.