Linda Stamper Boyne: What have I danced my way into?
Vail CO, Colorado
Sometimes I get into situations and then ask myself how I ended up there. In this case, I knew exactly how I ended up there. And I only had myself to blame.
A month ago, I placed a shameless plea in my column to be a “notable local” dancer in the Youth Foundation’s fundraising event, the Star Dancing Gala, based on the TV show “Dancing With the Stars.” The dancers had already been chosen, but I was hoping to somehow snag a spot.
When I first disclosed this desire to my friends, one of them offered to pull a Tonya Harding in order to take out the competition and make a place for me. Ironically, the same concern was raised among the participants when my column ran.
Now, Tonya is a fellow Oregonian, but I cannot condone that sort of behavior. And fortunately, it didn’t come to that. My place secured, I was excited and ready to go.
We’re two months out from the Star Dancing Gala, and I’m way behind my competition. Others have been taking lessons for months, practicing the choreography, learning the nuances of their particular dance styles.
Last week was my first day to put my feet on the dance floor. I felt like I was going in blind. I hadn’t met my professional dance partner. I didn’t know what style of dance I was going to do. I hadn’t been taking lessons or practicing in any manner whatsoever.
But still, the excitement of being a part of the event overrode the unknown.
I walked into our group rehearsal to find the other participants, dressed in dancewear and real dancing shoes, game faces on, working the dance floor. I looked down at my running shoes and sweats and suddenly the possibility of making a fool of myself crossed my mind for the first time.
How could I have not considered that before? I was so focused on the positive — the fun, the challenge, the opportunity to participate in a great event for a great cause — that I hadn’t mentally gone to the dark side.
To add insult to injury, Plum TV cameras were set up, ready capture my humiliation on tape.
Buoyed by remembering my pledge to myself to learn new things, try new experience, blah, blah, blah, I just decided that spectacle or not, I was going to have fun with this.
Meeting my dance partner, Mark Pennington, put me at ease right away. He didn’t seem at all nervous about all this, so I figured, “Why should I?”
Sitting on a piano bench were two of the other dancers, also dancing with Mark. I was relieved to discover they, too, had not practiced with him until that day and had just figure out what style they would be dancing. Both will be swinging, one West Coast, the other East Coast.
Tricia Swenson, “Good Morning Vail” host, has youth and exuberance on her side. And the fact that she’s in front of a camera on a daily basis will surely give her the advantage of being at ease in front of an audience. But I’ve danced with Tricia at several fundraising balls, so I know I can keep up with her.
Martha Brassel, of the Vilar Performing Arts Center, is an unknown talent, however. Martha has dance experience and is training for a triathlon. She’s around performers all the time. She probably picked up a trick or two simply by observing, or maybe osmosis.
I started to relax a little more, having sized up some of the competition. Time to determine what I would be taking on.
Based on my experiences at the Grizzly Rose in Denver in the early ’90s, Mark and I decided we would be dancing the country two step. We took a few turns around the dance floor, Mark repeating, “Quick, quick, slow, slow,” until I got the hang of it. Then he tried a few spins and I got tangled up. Oh well, we have some time to work that out.
Being the girl that I am, I immediately started thinking about what color cowboy boots I needed and what the appropriate costume would be. As the other dancers agreed, it really is all about the shoes and the dresses.
Oh, and the children!
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through email@example.com
There Marco Odermatt was, in the Birds of Prey finish corral following his gutsy super-G run, wondering just how fast he was. As the second skier on course, and the first to finish, the confusion was understandable.