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Since Dancing with the Stars – Shasta County Style is over, I’ll share my impressions from two months ago, when I first met Jake Carver. He just graduated Foothill High School.
He’s more than 10 years younger than my daughter.
I now know Jake a lot better. He’s a dedicated athlete, musician, choreographer, dancer and day-time Shasta College student. He committed himself to the grueling dwts schedule, even though it meant knowing he’d not get a summer job because he’d be out of commission for three weeks’ worth of evenings.
Lately I find myself quoting Jake, whose wise dance advice works well for life, too:
No matter how bad you mess up, don’t stop, just keep moving.
If you do something wrong, like step with the wrong foot or fling out the wrong arm, don’t try to correct it. Everyone will notice. Just stick with it and it will look intentional.
Don’t look at your feet while you dance. It’s an energy-drainer for the audience, and besides, it’ll make people look at your feet where they might notice mistakes.
Hold your head up and people will look at your face. Then smile.
Jake emailed me Sunday, the morning after our Dancing with the Stars – Shasta County Style performance.
Saturday we waltzed to “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles and did a disco to “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. (See video, below.) I wore a black-and-green chiffon dress for the waltz, and a bright red dress for the disco. Jake wore a black tux for the waltz and white slacks, white shirt and a brown vest for the disco. Our props included a newspaper and a pink slip.
Redding Rancheria CEO Tracy Edwards and her partner, Matt Armstrong, earned the most audience votes, which crowned them the 2008 Dancing with the Stars – Shasta County Style champions. (Yay Tracy and Matt!)
Back to Jake’s email, where he said he was impressed with how well everything came together. Jake said I’d come a long way as a dancer and that all the hard work was fun, and worth it. In fact, he said he considered Saturday a success.
But I especially loved this part of his email: “Yeah, we didn’t win,” he said. “But you know what? Everyone loved our routines.”
Actually, we – and all our fellow dwts dancers – did win.
We won friendships with our co-dancers that made overt competition seem silly.
We won an intensive, schedule-breaking, dinner-missing, family-abandoning boot-camp-like dance-training experience that included sweat, pulled muscles and exhausting rehearsals in an often-sweltering YMCA gymnasium during triple-digit smoky evenings.
Most of all, we won the pride of knowing we entertained an auditorium full of people in the stunning Cascade Theatre, while we simultaneously raised money for two worthy community causes: The Shasta Family YMCA’s youth programs and Shasta Women’s Refuge.
Personally, I won a feeling of accomplishment to face something that terrified me: to dance on a stage before hundreds of people.
To paraphrase Les Baugh, a fellow dwts dancer last night: “I can speak before 10,000 people but don’t make me dance on stage.”
But we did dance on stage – Les Baugh, Don Burton, Tracy Edwards, Chita Johnson, Kurt Starman and yours truly.
All of us are accustomed to public speaking. All of us are confident, ambitious, busy, fairly competitive individuals.
However, in the able hands of our six professional dancers (mostly teenagers, some as young as 15) we were pushed to the absolute ledge of our comfort zones. There, our dance partners then caught and taught us.
Last night, waiting in the Cascade Theatre wings to walk on stage for the first time, those young people were the ones giving us pep talks.
You look great.
You’ll do great.
You can do it.
You know what – if you make a mistake, that’s OK.
It doesn’t matter if we win. It’s for a good cause.
We went on stage. We danced. We had fun. We truly did.
I’ll never forget it. In fact, it may have inspired me to take a dance class or two. But not right away.
Today, I’m relieved Dancing with the Stars – Shasta County Style is behind me.
I’ll return to my work schedule. I’ll resume my family connections and responsibilities. I’ll quit counting one-two-three in the grocery store line. I’ll stop thinking step-ball-change as I fall asleep at night.
I’ll dream of dancing in a chiffon dress.