So next weekend I'm participating in Dancing With the Ohio Valley Stars. I'd be lying if I said I'd jumped at the opportunity. In fact, my first thought upon being asked involved flying pigs in a frozen Hell. After all, I don't know anything about dancing. I've never watched the ABC show and can't tell a Rumba from a Roomba. Plus, I'm not exactly built for speed when it comes to the dance floor. "Break a leg" is a phrase probably closer to prophecy than favor when it comes to my natural acumen, or lack thereof, as a dancer. But when it was explained that the event is a benefit for the Augusta Levy Learning Center, I quickly reconsidered and agreed to step way out of my comfort zone. After all Augusta Levy is a wonderful organization providing a host of valuable services for needy children. I know several who have benefitted from the organization's offerings, and I really welcomed the chance to participate for such a noble cause. As far as my being asked to participate, I still can't help but think that somebody on the selection committee must have lost a bet. I keep flashing back to Steve Carrel's character in "Dinner With Schmucks". But the flyers are printed, so they're stuck with me now.
For the past month, I've spent at least as much time in close physical contact with a girl half my age as I have with my wife. Under different circumstances, this kind of behavior would promptly land me on the street, with only a pile of my burned clothes to call friend. But fortunately for me, my wife, Jessica, has once again shown supreme patience and support, as she has continuously demonstrated since we first met. She's good like that, particularly when it comes to supporting the important work organizations like Augusta Levy do to change lives every day, and I will always love her for it. Practice itself has exposed me to an entirely new culture I never had the opportunity to really appreciate before. My partner, Devyn Stidd, is a dance instructor at Take a Bow Dance Studio, located in Moundsville, and she and the other instructors have definitely brought me a deep appreciation for dance as art. Devyn, owner Chelsea Loy and instructor Caleb Cooper, have also shown supreme patience and support in getting me as stage ready as possible. It is apparent that they have all invested a tremendous amount of time, effort and discipline in their craft to perform at such a high level and they are all outstanding choreographers who have put together some really engaging and lively routines for all us civilians. I've really enjoyed watching the things the Take a Bow instructors and their students can do. The strength, flexibility and control on display at Take a Bow has been amazing to watch and, in addition to my partner Devyn, I greatly appreciate the support and instruction Caleb and Chelsea have provided me, even though they have their own partners to worry about. It's always tough at first to work closely with strangers, especially on something like dancing. But Devyn and everyone else at Take a Bow has made me feel right at home and made this a much more enjoyable experience than I could have imagined when I came on board. The other part of practice that has been really great for me is that I've gotten to spend a good deal of time with my fellow contestant, Liz Hofreuter-Landini. I've known "Mrs. H-L" for a several years now through her outstanding work as Head of Wheeling Country Day School and have long admired her philosophies and dedication to education. And let me tell you, Mrs. H-L has brought all of her talents to this competition and she and her dance partner have cooked up a really dynamic routine.
So here we are, with only a few days to go before the big night on November 2, 2013 but still a good deal of work to complete. I have to say I'm really looking forward to "performing" at the Capitol Theatre, even if it's not exactly in the way I've always dreamed about. I absolutely love everything about the Capitol, even though my track record there isn't so great. In fact, I think the last time I performed on the Capitol stage was as an 8th grader in the Linsly Extravaganza, when I delivered a badly off-key rendition of Blowin' In the Wind that basically tanked a quartet performance that included country music superstar Brad Paisley (fortunately Brad somewhat recovered). While dancing is certainly not the platform to provide me with any hope of redemption for that performance, my fingers are crossed that it can't be any worse. After all that's the beauty of setting the bar so low, or at least I hope so anyway.
But I know everyone involved in putting on this event, from Augusta Levy Director Kathy Shapell to WTRF Promotions Director Jessica Rine to all the dance instructors and civilian participants, has worked very, very hard to deliver a memorable event. So I am hoping for a great turnout on Saturday night, to benefit a great cause and enjoy a fun-filled event. All in all, I have to say it's been an enjoyable experience for me and, while I don't know that I'll be rushing off to ballroom dance classes after this, I am glad I decided to trade my initial reservations for dancing shoes. And lest anyone be concerned, I will not be twerking at any point during the competition (my partner won't let me!). Hope to see you all there.