When I was asked to do Swinging With The Stars, I thought “hey I can do this”. I LOVE to dance - give me the opportunity to go out dancing and I am all over it - but I didn’t realize that this isn’t that kind of dancing! My partner Brenden refers to me as a ‘non-dancer’, which I try not to take offence to as I know he means it in the nicest way, but there is a really big difference from naturally moving to the music on a dance floor to actually having to have your body trained to move into a pre-choreographed position at the exact right time!
Actually my first response when Brett Bayda, the event organizer, asked me to participate was “NO WAY”! Getting up in front of 900 of Saskatoon’s finest and preforming for 2 minutes is actually my version of a nightmare!! I had danced a bit when I was young but the performance was always the most grueling part for me - just so much pressure all in one moment. Brett was very persistent though, and as time went on and we had many conversations, I came to realization that this actually was more about me doing something great for local charity, so I decided to bite the bullet and jumped in with both feet... pun intended!
My love for dance is definitely geared to the style of hip hop so that is what I chose as my dance style. I decided that I wanted to do something iconic and challenging- Michael Jackson was just that, and Brett did his part and found me a partner who was exactly on the same page as me. I was paired up with the uber-talented Brenden Turanich, who’s passion for stylized hip hop was pretty incredible. Brenden’s experience was built on a lifetime of dancing with Sitter’s School of Dance in Saskatoon as well as he had spent the last 10 years preforming and choreographing in the US and Japan and working with some of the most renowned names in the industry.
One of the most important parts of this experience for me was this partnership that Brenden and I developed quite quickly. We were both motivated, excited, and willing to do whatever it took to take the title! The process of learning to dance like this was quite a struggle for me for sure. Having to develop these skills from nothing was a real challenge, and sometimes your body and your brain just don't work together like you would hope!! But being that my partner was super patient (and was used to teaching children ;)) he really took the time to help me to understand and to be confident in the process.
The music Brenden put together had a real mobster vibe to it and although we ended up having a really great time dancing, we decided to take it one step further. We engaged a local videographer, Greg Patterson, and together we created a little gangster movie to play before we danced. We also decided to include my son "lighting us up" at the end of the dance, and he became our head gangster in our movie. I’m sure he’ll thank me one day for the scene where he sat amongst a group of gangsters, surrounded in booze, weapons and cash with a touch of white powder under his nose! Ha… it was all in good fun!
Well Jan 31st 2016 came all too quickly and my performance fears were about to become a reality. But the most amazing thing happened…I did it, and I did it pretty well I think. It was really strange actually, Brenden told me that if I did the routine enough and was mostly prepared by January 1st that by the time the end of the month came around, that I wouldn’t be scared to do it anymore because it would come naturally. Strangely enough, I did the dress rehearsal the day of the show and the fear was pretty much gone. Pretty incredible I think, but it just came down to confidence and just knowing what I was doing like the back of my hand- a good life skill I think!
So ultimately the event ended in us taking the win and the high of the night was pretty incredible. Most importantly was that we raised over $120,000 for local charity and doubled the fundraising from the year before. Swinging with the Stars is absolutely one of the best events in Saskatoon. The energy of the crowd and the effort put forth from all of the dancers is so powerful and exciting. Plus, for me this was a pretty crazy accomplishment, something that I could have never really imagined for myself. It has truly been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life!
Now here we are coming close to the next event (Jan 28/ 2017) and we are back to practicing. This year we are once again competing but in the ‘All-Stars vs Rookies’ version, where past favourites take on brave newbies. And well, needless to say we have an exciting new number up our sleeves, and the routine is even more difficult than the previous. I definitely still fear the final performance, but am trying to focus on enjoying the learning process.
This year we are raising money for the Saskatoon City Hospital and if you don’t have your tickets yet, you should come out and support these brave local celebrities who are like me and are stepping waaaay out of their comfort zone for this great cause! Early bird prices end November 30th!
For more information visit http://swtsevents.com/saskatoon/ . Professional photos and banner courtesy of Swinging With The Stars.
Watch last year's performance...