It takes many willing and dedicated friends to set-up and take-down for ‘Dancin' For Miracles’ and Valarie Keller has those in spades. They start by loading up a truck (donated and driven by Gloria Kirchner’s non-dancing husband Hank) in Niagara Falls with gifts, equipment and so on, taking it all to the Event Hall in Wasaga on the Thursday. Then unloading and setting up the Hall for the weekend. Finally on the Sunday after a hectic and tiring three days, they reverse the whole operation. They did an amazing job, I am so impressed every year and this was no exception.
Suffice to say that Valarie and her team of volunteers ran another very successful 'Dancin' For Miracles' in Wasaga Beach this past weekend. As always it included lots of laughter, dancin', fun and fund-raising with never a dull moment. It is such a pleasure to catch up with dancers from all over Ontario who you might not have seen since last September. The event has been running for 14 years and good friendships have been formed over that time. We have the opportunity to chat as well as dance and dancers become more than friendly faces. Each day we eat the $3 lunch together (where else would you get a sandwich –tuna, egg salad or chicken salad – vegetables and dip, pickles, olives and grapes for $3?) and it gives you a chance to have a personal catch-up without someone jumping up to race to the dance floor! Non-dancers enjoy coming to participate in the fund-raisers as well as dancers who maybe can’t dance as much as they used to but love the social side of this event.
Friday evening is open dance only, interrupted for a short while when Valarie introduces the instructors in a manner that ensures you definitely see a different side to them. Ask yourself how your instructors could burst a balloon attached to another instructor without using their hands or teeth!! Indeed you will realize how innovative and creative your instructors really are!!!
Lynn Warden has been the resident DJ for Dancin’ For Miracles for many years but unfortunately health problems prevented her from coming this year and Dan Morrison ably took up the challenge at the last moment. Many thanks Dan and hope you get better soon Lynn. We were also very sad to hear that Mrs. Betty Keller was also too unwell to attend. Mrs. B is always sitting at the front door waiting for us when we enter and it didn’t see quite right not to see her there. Do know that we are all thinking of you Betty and send our love and best wishes. And, of course, Ray Turcotte was sadly missed as well.
Saturday started later this year, Valarie listens to our suggestions and follows through. Many of the dancers wanted a bit more of a lay-in! Jennie Johns got us warmed up with some zumba. Then to our astonishment the most motley crew of instructors took to the stage; I still am not quite sure who they were but do check out the photo and see if you recognize any of them and let me know! “It’s Creepy” was the dance they taught and it was rather creepy indeed!!!!!
Dan took to the stage next to teach us one of his new dances “Love Like Yours”, very well received by the dancers and will no doubt be another one of Dan’s hits. I was up next with a bit of a challenge with “Zee Zee” co-choreographed with Ria Vos. The dancers were very patient with me chatting with their right foot and even attempting a SOB on the second set of eight!! You had to be there!
Carolyn Beer chooses good dances to teach and this time around it was a beautiful NC2 called “You and Me” written by Darren Bailey. She was followed by popular Fred Buckley with a couple of easy but interesting dances “Falling Rain” by Juliet Lam and “Flowers In Your Hair” by Francien Sittrop. Michel Cabana from Ottawa and Leader of The Crazy Soles, tackled “I’m Mad” by Brenda Shatto. This dance won the Choreography Competition at the Vegas Dance Explosion last year and I really enjoyed learning it. Newbie Terri Anderson from Rochester brought us another challenge with Rob Fowler’s “”Overnight”. What a good dancer Terri is, she was a pleasure to watch, but if I could just remember how to do applejacks!!!!!!
Double Trouble really got us moving starting first with their smash hit “Help Me Make It” which packed the floor, followed by two easy fun dances “American Kids” by Randy Pelletier and “Roller Coaster Ride” by Dan Albro – I loved the song for this one and the dance fitted the rhythm perfectly. Elizabeth Hendren-Roberge also gave us a couple of nice easy dances, one by Canadian choreographer Marthe Thibeault who is a former winner of the Choregraphy Competition at Vegas. This time around Marthe has penned an easy “Fireball” with some fun steps in it. Then Elizabeth made sure we got our exercise with a new one from Robbie McGowan Hickie called “Piano Man”. Bobby Chong was last up but kept everyone’s energy high racing around the floor teaching “Come With Me” by DuWayne Flora and “NY Rain” by Vangie Ibasan.
On Saturday evening we enjoyed a performance by The Crazy Soles who brought Michael Jackson’s Thriller back to life with an excellent, very realistic performance; I could swear they had persuaded MJ to dance with them! Then The Cruisers took the loaves and fishes parable to new heights!! There must have been 365 scantily clad devil women who climbed out of a coffin that a squad (Flock? Bunch?!!!) of Monks brought onto the dance floor! They sure could dance and what a terrific performance it was by Lena Kovacs and her stunning team of dancers. Then we danced and danced and ……..! Fortunately Sunday is a relaxing quick review morning followed by open dancing and it’s always fun.
But for those of who have never been to Dancin’ For Miracles I have to tell you what you can do when you’re not dancin’! This event is a major fundraiser. It has raised over $130,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society over the years but the $5000 raised this year will be going to hospices in Ontario from areas the line dancers travelled from. This was a popular decision judging by the applause after Valarie’s announcement. You should know that there are so many prizes to be won; the Raffle is amazing and very popular, as is the Chinese Auction and the “Penny Sale”. You can win a weekend in Niagara Falls with lots of sight-seeing trips even including a helicopter ride! You could also buy a pair of dance shoes courtesy Gloria, Jill and Dianne or have a relaxing massage by Angie Gillian. You will never be bored!!
None of this could happen without the completely focused and dedicated Valarie Keller and her committed volunteers. My sincere thanks to them all and my hope that they will now have an opportunity to rest and catch up on their sleep so that they will be rejuvenated and ready to start preparing for DANCIN’ FOR MIRACLES, September 11,12, and 13, 2015 when we will be heading to the Wasaga Caribbean!!! You’ve all got plenty of time to check out Value Village and Goodwill meanwhile!!