The Dance…

The music starts.

Your heart starts beating nearly uncontrollably as the countdown signals your entrance.

You take a deep breath, toss shoulders back and swing aside the curtain.

You’re on stage.

Focused… you sense applause as you head toward the spotlight greet to your dance partner. You catch each other’s eyes, smile and off you go… to entertain the audience and raise money for charity. It’s “Swingshift and the Stars.”

DANCING from your hearts.

One year ago today I experienced that joy and fear. I stepped out of my comfort zone into a world of “ballroom” dancing for a charity dance-off.

Photo by Record Eagle

Photo by Record Eagle 2014

What an adventure! Through hours of rehearsal and perspiration, my partner and I developed a mutual trust. We agreed to attempt  “lifts” I swore I could never accomplish. See that girl on the man’s shoulder? It’s me! I call that the “Peter Pam,” as it was the closest I ever felt to flying. 😉

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Yes, I have taught dancers how to safely perform lifts, and I have done too many to count as a young dancer. But 20 years and three children later… this was a big, nerve-wracking decision!

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo by Windborne Photographic

“The Dance.”

For me, it’s what life is all about. Dance is a gift of art and self-expression that must be shared. Because I live that philosophy, I know that dance on the highest levels requires balance, grace, coordination, and athleticism. To me the most important elements are your emotional commitment and the passion behind the movements. I believe this applies not only to DANCING but everyday life. We need more passion in our actions!

Through these performances I learned that facing fears directly can be exhilarating and intensely satisfying when you achieve what you never thought possible, or had been afraid to try. And that is what my run on the charity dance-off “Swingshift and the Stars” accomplished for me. I competed as a dance professional in the four-month-long  charity dance-off. I was paired with a local celebrity. We invested over 5 months of rehearsals. It allowed me time to learn new steps and then teach them to my celebrity partner, a self-proclaimed non-dancer. We mastered intricate routines for the four separate competitive events in which we were to compete.

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo By Windborne Photographic

Photo By Windborne Photographic

I personally learned four different dances; each with its own rhythms, footwork, arm holds, turns, emotion, character and styles. First was a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers-inspired Foxtrot, followed by a John Travolta-inspired hustle. For the country-themed event we performed a West Coast Swing. The finale was a spicy, very spicy Latin Bolero (waaaaay out of my territory) but I DID it!!

With the support of fans and sponsors, and the votes of judges, our hard work brought in over $130,000 for Leelanau Christian Neighbors!! I believe when you put your heart into something (whether its dance or something else) you will be rewarded for your effort. For this event, our community joined together, for an all-time record. Over $300,000 was raised for the 2014 season.

Swingshift award

We did it! I did! The community did it! And what we achieved for the charities fills my soul to the core.

Overflowing with gratitude a year later, my heart continues to fuel my daily life with family, friends and teaching. Returning to the event for this season as a judge has already touched my heart in ways I didn’t expect. I know how hard these couples are working (along with everyone else behind the scenes). I get a little choked up thinking about the impact they will make for their charities and the precious folks they will help.

YOU can make a difference too…in those tiny moments, in those big moments and just by offering a smile to someone.

The music is starting…

Join me as we all grab each other’s hands, listen to our hearts, find that passion to drive our action… and DANCE!!!

46 thoughts on “The Dance…

  1. I love to dance and this is amazing! You capture your experience beautifully and your passion shines just as brightly here as I’m sure it does when you’re on the dance floor! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this story.

    I also ADORE your post, The Heart of a Princess. It’s so gorgeously written and inspiring! Love, love, love!

    P.S. The link in my email went to an error page so I hit the home button trying to find a way to contact you and then the post was at the top of the page. So it all worked out but I just thought you might want to know since I know I would if it happened with mine. 😉

  2. Really fabulous and so wonderful that you were able to raise funds for a good cause. I’ve taken ballroom classes – waltz and swing were my favorites (I was terrible at Latin!).


  3. I am so excited to see a Mom out there following her passion and showing her children how important it is to be charitable. I have always worked hard to show my children that it is important to help those you can, when you can. From your photos it is clear that you love what you do.
    You are an inspiration.

  4. Pingback: Blogelina Commentathon – Group D | Blogelina

  5. Bravo to you! It takes courage to commit to something like that, especially something that involves performing in public. You look like you’re glowing up there on stage.

  6. Good for you! I bet you had the time of your life. I am sure you will make a great judge too. I love it when communities have events like this and help others. You really did raise an incredible amount of money but I bet you benefited from this as much as the organization you raised the money for.

  7. I started reading and felt goosebumps all over my body. I used to be a dancer, but because of the injury I had to stop. I remember how I was sitting in my car in my driveway before the very first performance and could not make myself start the car. I wanted to go back inside and forget about the performance (no partners, I was a belly dancer). It took me about an hour of struggle before I finally started driving. Many more performances followed that one, and I was one happy dancer for several years. Love your post, love your photos, and love why you are dancing! Thank you 🙂

  8. That’s great! I love to dance and have dabbled in a few different styles as an adult. I actually sometimes perform dance as an adult and it is always an exercise in stepping outside one’s comfort zone. But it is always exciting as well!

  9. That is so awesome!!! Great job on raising $300,000 as a community! You look great in your pictures…I was on the dance team in high school and I have dreams now that I have to go on stage and right before I forget what dance we are doing and can’t remember any of the steps!!

  10. I did ballet for 10 years growing up. I did square dancing for a couple of years, too. (WHAT a workout square dancing is – oh my!) I did a little ballroom dancing in college. I would love to get back into the dancing. Unfortunately, with multiple right ankle injuries, I’m not able to right now. I love your writing style, you drew me to back stage, I remembered those butterflies and nerves, and the spotlight. Thanks for sharing! ~Adrienne

  11. I had goose bumps reading this post! Amazing story about stepping out of your comfort zone and true community spirit. I would love to do something like this. My daughter who is only 4 is taking ballet and really seems to love it and just gets it. I love watching her go into her own zone when she is dancing.. I find it mesmerizing. Great article.

    Thrifting Diva

  12. What a great accomplishment, I loved the pictures! I’d love to learn ballroom dancing (and some others) once my kids are a little older, and I’m not spending all of my time in my mom taxi transporting them from one activity to the next, haha.

  13. What an inspiring post! It’s scary to move out of your comfort zone, but once you accomplish something – it feels amazing. Thanks for sharing your story

  14. Wow, fantastic job on challenging yourself with dance moves you haven’t tried in years. I personally can’t imagine attempting a lift! The charity fundraising is awesome!

  15. You’re incredible. My husband and I took ballroom dancing lessons awhile back and it was a bit tricky. You accomplished a great feat while supporting your community. Love hearing stories like yours.

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