Spring came early to Toronto this year by at least four weeks. The daffodils stayed around for a long time and the trees came into leaf well before their usual entrance at the beginning of May. So anticipation of the Spring Workshop was at a fever pitch by the time the BIG day came along!! This year Maggie Gallagher was to be our special guest. I had worked with Maggie before and it had become an aspiration of mine to introduce her to my fellow dancers here in Ontario, I knew they would love her. I was so excited when she agreed to come and the word began to spread. Only a few months after the flyers were first distributed the event was sold out ... that was nearly 6 months before the date! This was doubly impressive because we decided to move the event to a much larger venue which would accommodate over 200 dancers.
Maggie flew in the Friday evening and with no time to catch up on jetlag she was on the dance floor and teaching the next day. As well as .... being photographed! I think eventually everyone who came to the workshop was in a photo with Maggie! What an afternoon it was, Maggie is a both a consummate professional and an extremely talented person but more importantly, she is a genuinely warm and friendly individual who was interested in everyone. She charmed and delighted us all. And boy did we learn! Maggie is a fantastic instructor and taught us six dances. She started with ‘The Blarney Rose’ which everyone loved, followed by a great country track and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. A short break during which we danced ‘Maggie favourites and on to ‘Heart Beats Louder’ which was one of my favourites. Then great excitement as Maggie taught us a completely new dance only tested that week by her Wednesday class. ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ is no doubt destined to join the ranks of Maggie’s big hits. It needed our concentration but lots of happy faces once we got the moves and could enjoy them with the rhythm of the song. We were thrilled to be almost the first to learn this terrific dance and Maggie has dedicated it to us.
Next up Maggie had promised that she would teach her latest intermediate/advanced dance ‘Sexy Naughty Me’ but she gave us all a break with a nice easy dance first, ‘Do You Feel’. It’s an excellent improver dance and gave the dancers the confidence to stay on the floor to learn that hard one!! ‘SNM’ is a tricky dance but what makes it advanced are the tags. Once we got those under our belts, we were OK. I’m sure this is going to be a huge hit by the response of the dancers at the workshop. Fred and I gave Maggie a break and taught a nice easy dance ‘Wanna Fly’ using both country – ‘Phoenix’ by Sean Hogan – and Latin ‘Mentiras’ by Carlos Bribon.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was a demonstration of Irish dancing by Maggie. Everyone was totally in awe of her performance. And what some of them didn’t know was that her knee had swollen up on the flight and she was in pain but went ahead with her show regardless so that we wouldn’t be disappointed.
The afternoon workshop went from 12-5. People headed off for a dinner break; I had scouted out local restaurants and many people booked tables ahead of time. Doors opened again at 6:30 and Fred got the music going at 6:45. Presentation time and, as is the tradition in Toronto, Maggie had to be certified and I had some little gifts for her three little boys and later in the evening a ‘Welcome Maggie’ cake!! Time for dancin’ and more dancin’ with Fred at the helm. We had put up a playlist so there were dances that everyone would know, many of them Maggie’s. It was such a treat to dance our favourites with her. Instead of doing reviews late afternoon, Maggie snuck them in during the evening and it worked really well. Aside from the published playlist, Fred had a request list as long as a football pitch. As always he did his best to keep everyone happy.
We had a 50/50 and one happy dancer went home with $162.50 in her pocket while the other half is to be donated to Princess Margaret Hospital. Second prize was a pass to ‘Dancin’ for Miracles’ kindly donated by Valarie Keller. We had over 30 door prizes so many of the dancers carried gift bags home with them when the dance ended at 11:30.
The new venue worked out very well and we received lots of very positive comments. It is booked again for next year’s Spring Workshop and the date will be April 27 so mark that in your calendars. Many many thanks to the 220 dancers who joined us for this event. Your support is much appreciated, indeed we couldn’t do it without you. Thanks also to our patient friends who helped us yet again. Cynthia's decorations were eye-catching, Dale's lamps literally glowed in the evening, my check-off helpers (including my son's fiancee Mattaniah) and everyone else who put out tablecloths, filled chip bowls and so on. We are so fortunate in our friends.
But this wasn’t the end of Maggie’s visit. The following evening the incomparable Emily Woo held a party packed in Maggie’s honour. It was in a Chinese restaurant with a huge dance floor and was packed with dancers. We were treated to a ten course meal. In fact the food didn’t stop until late in the evening! Emily posted a playlist to her website so that dancers could prepare ahead of time but she also did a quick review of many of the dances so everyone could dance. Maggie taught a couple and led a number of others, plus I think she chatted with literally everyone in the room and still found time to do an Irish performance. There was a very nice presentation from Emily and lots of photos again. As always Emily and her dancers make this a very special evening of fun and dance and Maggie had a wonderful time.
After sitting up in my kitchen and talking until the wee hours, we got a few hours sleep and then up and off to the airport. Maggie reckoned she would fall asleep as soon as she sat down in the plane!!
Maggie has certainly added huge numbers of dancers to her fan club here in Toronto now, “to be sure, to be sure”!!
DANCES TAUGHT BY MAGGIE:
Rock Paper Scissors
Don't Let Me Down
Heart Beat Louder
The Blarney Rose
Do You Feel
Sexy Naughty Me
VIVIENNE & FRED