"Grey sky and still snow and ice on the ground", I thought to myself, "This is not the impression of the city that I wanted for my guests". They were both coming from countries that already had spring flowers blooming! Kate Sala was flying in from the UK and Jose Miguel Belloque Vane was traveling from Holland where most of our tulips come from. But no problem, our gracious guests were just happy to be in Toronto and having fun with our dancers!
Kate had taught at our Spring Workshop 3 years ago but it was in a smaller venue and we had ended up with a long waiting list. This time around we had a larger venue and there was room for everyone to come and enjoy her teaching. Kate is well known over here and her dances are very popular in Canada so the dancers were eager to see her. Jose was the new kid on the block but we are already dancing some of his dances so the dancers were keen to meet this emerging young talent.
It was Jose's first trip to Canada so he came a little earlier. First off we headed up to Nashville North, a popular country bar just outside of Toronto. Instructors, Double Trouble, fill the house on Wednesday nights, as Jose put it "It's more like a party than a class!" He had a ball teaching 'I'm In Love With You' and gained new young fans for sure!! They loved the dance.
The next day off we went to Niagara Falls, adding in some wine tasting and a visit to the Casino. Unfortunately we mislaid Jose there and I was dreading telling the dancers on Saturday that we had carelessly lost him by the craps table!!! Thankfully he wasn't lost for toooooo long!
All we needed now was Kate and she flew in on the Friday ready for action despite her demanding schedule. It was such a pleasure to see her again, she is the nicest, most down to earth individual despite all her fame.
Saturday I was off early to the Venue and what would I do without my friends? As soon as they arrived they got to work, efficiently unloading the car, putting up decorations, sorting out the kitchen, organizing the tables, and preparing the check-in table. All with good humour and lots of laughs. Fred and Eddie got the sound system up and running, our guests arrived with my husband Michael as chauffeur (he had also been the cook and made them a good breakfast) and we were ready for the workshop.
We always start with a couple of easier dances so that everyone can learn and feel comfortable. Jose chose 'Obsesion', an interesting one wall, enjoyed by the dancers, and reviewed 'I'm In Love With You', everyone wanted to know this one. Kate taught a completely new dance for which the step sheet had not yet been released 'Keep It To Myself'. It was fast but everyone got it and it went down well. She added in the nice 'n easy smooth cha cha 'Fading Lights'. Next the two taught the Event Dance. As per tradition Fred and I write a dance with our guests and this year it was 'Open Hearts' to a great Latin track. We were all delighted with the dancers' response, thumbs up all round!
On to the next level and Jose taught 'Why Don't You' by request. The dancers seemed to really enjoy this one and it was also fun to watch. Kate then taught 'Rock N Roll Angel', another new dance, absolutely loved by everyone, gorgeous song and beautiful dance.
Time then for a performance by Jose. But in through the door came a guy with a long black mustache, yellow beanie and yellow nylon track suit with a boom box on his shoulder. What had happened to Jose we wondered?!!! First we were treated to some impressive dancing including hip hop, but then this cheeky Ali G look alike surprised one of the dancers with some lap dancing and took us all to the washroom with him!!! I know this sounds most bizarre but you had to be there, everyone was in stitches!!!
A break for a meal and back for the evening dance. We had tried something different this time around and there was a play list, in order of play, on every table. The list was compiled of classics, current favourites and requests from instructors and dancers. It included dances of all levels and all types of music. It was put on my and Fred's website before Christmas and was regularly updated as requests came in until four weeks before the event. This gave dancers an opportunity to learn or review dances ahead of time. As a result for most of the evening the dance floor was full.
During the evening our instructors gave a quick review of the dances taught and it was amazing how people remembered, they were up for each dance. Our instructors did yeoman duty, I think Kate was on the floor almost all evening either dancing her dances, there were eleven on the list, or others that she knew, or she simply followed another dancer! Her energy and enthusiasm is really catching, she is a delight to be around.
Jose is a delightful and genuine young man with the quirkiest sense of humour! By the evening dance he had become a crowd favourite. Everyone wanted to have their photo taken with Jose and Kate!!! So if the two weren't dancin' or chatting, they were posing for photos!!
But there was more. We had the cake cutting with Kate and Jose and while everyone ate cake the Raindrops Team entertained us with a lively and stylish performance. Many thanks to Emily Woo and her dancers.
We held a raffle with a choice of one of the four gift baskets (Thanks to Dale McNeil for the baskets), a complimentary pass to Dancin' for Miracles (Thanks to Valarie Keller) or $50 cash. Thanks to the dancers $270 was raised for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The next evening Emily held her traditional party for our guests. We all had so much fun, Emily sure knows how to throw a lively party!!! Thanks so much to Emily and her dancers for making us feel so welcome. Kate, Jose, Fred and I had a wonderful time.
Thanks so much to our friends who are always there to help organize, and to the dancers who have supported our events, we couldn't do it without you and we are sincerely grateful that you continue to turn up with smiles on your faces. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have you all in our lives.
We limited our numbers this year to make sure the dance floor was not too packed and so that the seating was more comfortable, and that will stay. Next year we will also limit the numbers for those who want to come only to the evening dance, to make sure the floor is not too full in the evening.
DANCES TAUGHT - click on the dance names for step sheet and videos:
EVENT DANCE written by Kate, Vivienne, Jose, Fred:
JOSE MIGUEL BELLOQUE VANE