And so, it’s over.
Months of preparation, hours of dance lessons, a few sleepless hours spent wondering, “what did I get us into?” and many, many hours of practice.
Suddenly, “Dancing with the Geneva Stars” is just a memory.
And what a memory it is. Golden, in many respects, as my husband and I, more accustomed (especially Steve) to behind-the-scenes work for school and community theatrical productions, ventured onto the stage as performers.
But it was not only something we’ll never forget, it’s something I’d recommend in a heartbeat to others. I’m pretty sure all my fellow dancers would, as well. And I say that as someone who, after being in the spotlight, knows she prefers backstage.
The afternoon rehearsal was dreadful; Steve and I were thrown at first by the different size of the stage and a few other factors. I had to talk myself down off a cliff, so to speak, reminding myself sternly that after hours of practice, we knew the dance. Reviewing the steps, first in my head and then in the downstairs of Eagle Brook Country Club reminded me the steps were committed to memory and that once we got going, we’d be fine.
Linda Cunningham of State Street Dance Studio told us all to live in the moment, to enjoy the moment, to remember that, as with any performance, it never happens again in the same way. I also got calmed down, as we waited outside the ballroom doors, stomach in my throat, by asking Therese Davison, a 2011 dancer.
“Were you nervous last year?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” she replied.
Somehow that helped! And then the doors opened, we stepped in and it was showtime. One of our tables of supporters was right by the steps to the stage, and we could see our other table, filled with people, including our daughters, waving signs our older daughters had made that afternoon. The routine just flowed.
And Alex, our fabulous dance instructor, had told us the day before, and stressed that day again, as he went over our routine, “remember. No one knows what you’re supposed to be doing. If you get off, just collect yourselves, do a box step, and get ready to get back into the routine.”
Good advice. And necessary too, as at one point I realized we somehow weren’t where we needed to be to get where we needed to go next. “Box step,” Steve muttered. And off we went. When we finished the dance, I am pretty sure I was smiling from ear to ear, because we had done it, we hadn’t fallen down or stopped, and it had been fun.
The camaraderie among our group of dancers was tremendous, as I’ve heard it’s been with past groups. (“I know you think your group was great last year,” I told Davison at one point, as 10 of the 12 were ensconced downstairs, awaiting our date with the executioner ... er, our time in the spotlight. “But ours is better.” I hope every single group feels the same way.) Two two-hour sessions of group dance rehearsal created bonding and got us working toward the common goal of a grand finale.
Saturday, as we rehearsed, we saw each other’s full routines for the first time. The applause and support was wonderful. Downstairs, we shouted good wishes as each couple ascended the staircase toward the ballroom. We clapped raucously upon each couple’s return. We admired everyone’s altered stage-worthy appearances. We said, “Boy, these false eyelashes feel weird!” (OK, only the women said that.)
And now that it’s over, how do we feel? As of early in the week, I think we were all still feeling the glow. (I was pretty happy Sunday, however, to leave the house only once: to go to the driveway to get the newspapers.)
“I would say the evening was magical. The journey since October has had good and very few bad days,” said Connie Wagner, elegant in dancing the foxtrot with husband Art. “I think going out of one’s comfort zone is a challenge and a mystery. Art and I both enjoyed all the lessons and hours of practice. We would do it again in a heartbeat. The group dance was a blast, Linda (Cunningham) really did get the best out of us,” she added.
“Those two Sundays we all worked together and on the event day was a bonding. Like Linda told us, ‘enjoy the moment’ and I think we all did. Our instructors Michael and Aubrey were so kind and patient, which helped in the journey. I think all of us know what a special place we live in and Geneva supported us all.”
Laura Rush would “do it again in a Geneva minute.” She and Derek Swanson were non-stop cheerleaders for all of us, the extroverts who not only wanted very much to dance but also weren’t even nervous on Saturday!
“We came a long way from last October and all gave Genevans and beyond a great show Saturday night,” she said, calling the evening “priceless.” And she, like just about all of us, I think, at that time was still pretty juiced up about the whole evening. I know I was.
I don’t believe any of us really cared who “won,” either. We were all doing it for charity, and the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission and Geneva Academic Foundation benefited.
At the end, I think we were all just proud we’d done it, proud we’d tried something new, happy we’d learned our dances and routines, and pleased with how they’d gone. The atmosphere was unbelievably supportive and the whole thing was a huge bunch of fun.
Ralph Dantino was directly responsible for us participating. He and wife Nancy danced last year and it was his persuasion that put Steve on the dance after I said, “sure” and he said “no way.” Ralph wasn’t able to attend, as he’d been ill. But he called Sunday to tell us he heard we’d done well. At the end of the three-way conversation, he asked Steve if he were mad at him for getting him into this. “No,” Steve said. “I guess I have to thank you.”
And we do.
If you’re ever asked, you could take Mike Jacoby’s advice (he of the show-stopping tango danced with wife Heidi—it was fabulous!): “I would recommend that if you are asked to dance—jump, leap, lunge, skip, twirl at the opportunity. You will not regret it or ever forget it.”