It was that time of the year, the weather was still beautiful but some of the trees were changing colour. And, of course, we knew it was also time for the Thornhill Dance Jamboree held just north of Toronto. An annual event run by the very capable Linda Francey, this year it included a new toy drive (2 large boxes of toys were gathered to go to TSKH) and a portion of the ticket price ($750 was raised) went to Toronto Sick Children's Hospital. The event is held in the Thornhill Community Centre which is more like a fancy hotel and Linda had access to three good size rooms for the workshops. Two of the rooms were for line dance classes and the third had beginners’ line dancing in the morning and couples for the rest of the day.
This is an event that showcases talented local instructors and Ontario has its fair share of those. They came from quite a distance so I’ll start from furthest afield. Nelson Clarke and Cathy Jones traveled in from Ottawa and were newcomers to this event. Talented competitive dancers, they had taken part in the show at the Great Big Party and it was the glowing comments from her dancers that had led Linda to invite them. They taught some funky moves for the couples and Nelson did an excellent job of teaching a fairly tricky dance ‘Give It Up’ by Rachel McEnaney and an oldie ‘Chingford Cha’ by Michele Peron.
Next up I think must be Jennie Johns from Windsor. An exuberant and enthusiastic instructor and an impressive competitive dancer, Jennie is always fun to learn a dance from. She taught ‘If That’s OK?’ by Diddy Dave Morgan & Lesley Brown, ‘Not Gonna Be’ by Crazy Chris and ‘Release’ by Kim Thompson. Organizer of ‘The North Rocks for Charity’, talented choreographer Anita McNab made it down in a rush from Sudbury. Waking up at her normal time of 8 a.m. to find that she had set her alarm for 5:30 in the afternoon instead of the early morning she set a trail of smoke behind her as she raced down to the workshop!! We were fortunate that she got there after lunch to teach ‘Banjo Boogie’ and ‘Pickup Truck’.
Popular instructor Donna Laurin from Wyebridge is another talented choreographer and is also known to bring good dances to events. This year she focused on country music and taught ‘Dog & Bone’ by Kate Sala and ‘Big Love’ by Robbie McGowan Hickie. From Sauble Beach, Pat Pallas wore two hats at this event, teaching couples with husband Joe and also line. One of those instructors who you can see just loves dancing, Pat taught ‘Bull by The Horns’ by Liz Clarke, ‘Where Have You Gone’ by Gene Morrill & Ernie Hutchinson and beginner dance ‘Loves Gonna Get You Down’ by Sue Shepherd. Joe kept the couples dancing and happy as DJ in the Couples Dance Room.
Leah De Plancke traveled a fair distance as well. From up around Orillia, Leah is a fun loving instructor with a zany sense of humour. She is a country music lover and her choice of dances reflected this with ‘I’m Wrapped’ by Sylvia Schell and ‘Ride The Clouds’ by Heather Frye. Fresh from the resounding success of ‘Dancin’ for Miracles’ Valarie Keller hit town to teach ‘Double Trouble’s Choice’ by who else but Double Trouble, who also wrote her second teach ‘Let’s Paint The Town Blues’. Next up she taught a couple of nice beginner dances, ‘Mix It Up’ by The Girls and ‘Barking Up The Wrong Tree’ by Rep Ghazali. There is always some merriment in Val's class.
The Newmarket instructors are a terrific asset to our line dance scene. They’re an enthusiastic and caring group. Jill Baker started off with ‘Simply Irresistible’ that she wrote with Dianne Bishop; Debby Wilcox came next teaching her own dance "All Mine". Gloria Kirchner then taught a dance she wrote with Dianne called ‘Hey Big Spender’.
From Brampton, Monica Wilson and Robert Fielder had a few arrows to their bows at this event and raced from room to room. Together they taught 2 Step and Triple 2 Step to happy looking couples (I checked in the room!) and both also taught line. Monica started the day with ‘Dance For You’ by Robbie McGowan Hickie and Robert took on ‘Funkafied Blues’ by Jo Thompson Szymanski. Robert also wore the DJ hat in the North Room, a tricky job with so many different instructors on the stage during the day. He then did a good job of combining requests with dances taught at the night-time dance.
From Guelph, experienced and friendly instructor Michele Carver has a loyal following and her classes were full of happy dancers. She chose some dances with great music which included ‘Enignma’ by The Girls, ‘Mega Mambo’ by Glynn Holt & Stephen Rutter, and ‘You’re My Destiny’ by Peter Metelnick and Alison Biggs. Michele was also the very capable DJ in the busy Centre Room. The lucky couples were fortunate that Croc and Hope Young drove down from Shelborne to give some pattern partner instruction. I heard lots of chuckles emanating from that room when I went by! Bunny Burton from east of the city is one of those very likeable instructors and she was a great help at the door. She taught a hot dance right now ‘Zjozzys Funk’ by Petre v d Velden, also ‘Victory Shout’ by Jo Thompson Szymanski, and two of her own dances ‘Ain’t Got No Money’ and ‘Boogie The Joint’. From west of the city, experienced competitive dancer and instructor Bill MacLeod who teaches at West 7 and also has his own dance studio, started the day off with ‘Who Says’ by Maria Rask. Local instructor and also a wonderful dancer, Christine Mui taught her own ‘Say It All & Right’ and ‘Less In Time’ by Bracken Ellis to a packed class, not much space left to squeeze in!
Another local instructor, a ball of energy and fun, Emily Woo taught a dance I wrote with her called ‘Far Away’. The music used is different; it’s a very popular Chinese pop song and there are some fun hand movements, you need to see Emily dance this dance! Linda asked me to include the following comment made to her about Emily ... "Her delight in dancing makes everyone around her want to join the fun! Even the dancers who don't particularly care for arm movements enjoyed this adorable dance!" Linda took some time from her busy schedule to teach to a full class. The dancers enjoyed ‘Rebel Amor’ by Roy Verdonk & Wil Bos followed by a quick teach of 'Foolish' by Nancy Morgan. I also had fun teaching and had a class of patient dancers for ‘The Dancing Floor’ by Jos Slijpen, ‘Whole Lot of Leavin’ by Alan Birchall and my own ‘Vulnerable’.
There are a number of restaurants and fast food places close by for the dinner break and some people just sat outside and basked in the sun. Doors opened again at 7:30 and the dancers kept the floor lively until 12 midnight. Many, many thanks to Linda for all her hard work in running such a smooth event. There are so many details that are involved in an event like this and it is most definitely a labour of love. Linda has the date set for next year already, Saturday, September 27, 2008. Mark it in your calendars!!