I woke up at 3: AM Sunday; I didn’t realize I had fallen asleep with my make-up on – and it was still fully in tact! I wanted to keep it on but sadly I knew at some point that day I would have to face the outside world. I did leave the stones in my hair an extra day – why? Sparkles of course!
In these early morning hours I began to think about the beautiful memories of the day before. As usual I was one of the first hair and make-up appointments at 8:15 AM so when I arrived at the studio I went straight to the coffee! There were two make-up artists and two hairstylists and it felt like backstage at a fashion show. I was a few minutes early and saw Callie in deep conversation with Lexi, Sam and the rest of our glam squad pouring over pictures and making sure every detail was on point. Maxi would come through periodically to make sure everything was running smoothly. As others began to arrive and get their hair and makeup done it was so enlightening to see the different creations bringing the characters to life in everyone, and it was also a great time to catch up with people you might not see on a regular basis.

If the last Showcase was the showcase of Veterans, this was the Showcase of Newcomers, and of people taking chances and making their dreams come true. Opening the show was Golden Precious, The team of Ferdinando and Maria Lioce.  From their previous showcases they have become performers who are greatly anticipated. Since they were dancing to the song “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan they were now Golden Precious the Jungle version. The song is about exploration and wonder and set the tone for the entire showcase. Maria and Ferdinando captured the attention of everyone with authentic costumes from the period of Tarzan, and the usual joy and confidence that is present every time they dance. Maria wore a yellow satin dress trimmed in lace Ferdinando had a hat from that period  with a Safari suit and a maroon ascott tie. Callie and Maxi wore leopard print outfits further accenting the theme. This dance left an air of excitement and expectation for the rest of the performance.

One of the most deeply moving performances I’ve ever seen was Lauren Silensky’s beautiful Rumba with Mario “Go The Distance” from the movie Hercules. When you think about Hercules an image comes to mind a strong warrior that overcomes many battles, and I see this same type of strength in Lauren. She explained in her video that she has a disease called Ehlers- Danlos syndrome that affects her collagen. She almost didn’t come to the studio because of difficulty climbing stairs, but she overcame that challenge and now has become an example of conquering fears and obstacles to all of us. She absolutely glowed with joy dancing in her pink chiffon gown with her brilliant smile. Her movements and beautiful spirit transcended the performance and captivated everyone in attendance.  It was equally impressive that this was her first showcase.

Next up was another newcomer, Katie Arnold with an East Coast Swing to “Try Everything” from Zootopia. Katie added levity and fun in a brilliant hot pink dress accented with fringe and crystals. As she and Maxi captured the essence of the film to not give up no matter what the circumstances, she put a smile on everyone’s face. Her mastery of the steps at such an intense speed was quite impressive, and she exuded a joy for life that was contagious.

Lynn Ragan dazzled in a black gown with purple Peacock Feather accents across the bodice of the dress. She was dancing the Viennese waltz to “Once Upon A Dream” from Maleficent with Mario. Lynn always gives a solid, confident performance that stems from her core of positivity.  Lynn was the perfect person to deliver this story of finding the humanity in Maleficent, someone who was thought to be inherently evil but showed a capability of a love that was kind, gentle and restorative.   As Lynn commanded the stage with confidence and elegance she intertwined with the haunting chords of her song to leave an air of mystery and calm.

 Margaret Hopper was next, and her brilliant hair and make-up looked like the iconic movie star pictures from the 1940’s, a time when glamour was the expectation of every celebrity. Margaret danced to “Almost There” from the Princess and the Frog.   You could feel her joy excitement all the way through her routine, from the first movement of the arm until the masterful footwork at the end.  Her piece showed that dance is for every one of all ages, and she was another person experiencing her first showcase. This theme of dance being ageless was truly reinforced at the end of her routine when she was presented with flowers from her 96 year old friend who still competes in ballroom competitions.

Newcomers Andrea and Curt Seidle danced a Cha-Cha with Maxi and Callie to “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls. Andrea and Callie wore glamourous Fuchsia and black gowns and truly connected with their partners Mario and Curt.  Curt and Andrea captured the audience with their love for dance and each other. The Cha-Cha is a hard dance to master, but Curt and Andrea tackled their patterns with a fierce joy.

Heidi Braniff was another newcomer dancing to “You’ll be in my Heart” from Tarzan. To know Heidi is to be embraced by the purest form of love, and that love was magnified through her brilliant performance. In the video she explained how the song was special between her and her son and how they would sing the song to each other.  She wore dazzling animal print gown accented with feathers, flowers, and buttons. The stunning artistry of her movement left an imprint on the souls of all who watched, and the fact that this was her first showcase added to the magic of the moment.
Susan Roberson danced to the “Ghost Busters Theme”. Maxi and Mario wore the authentic Ghostbusters costumes, and Susan wore a Ghostbuster dress with black fringe. Susan raised the bar as she always does in her performances by tackling a combination of the West Coast Swing and Cha-Cha, and this was the perfect song to incorporate her artistry and sense of humor. Susan, Maxi, and Mario masterfully wove between both styles of dance while simultaneously igniting the sense of fun from the original movie.

 Next up was me! Even though I didn’t have my usual nerves that leave me pretty close to passing out, I still had incredible anxiety until stepping foot on the stage. My song was “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid.  This was not only the most challenging routine I have ever done, but I was doing the Tango which was my most difficult smooth dance. I also had to learn the routine to lyrics instead of counts, and then learn the speaking part and coordinate them with the corresponding movement. One thing that truly helped to calm my nerves was that I truly felt like a mermaid princess in my dress which was purple and green, and covered in pearls and abalone shells. As I embraced my character and moved through the dance I was able to let go and dance better than I ever have!

Bernadine Veal Wanha was another newcomer dancing “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” from The Aristocats. Wearing a fuchsia dress with silver crystals she moved with fierce determination, and you could tell she truly felt the song in every fiber of her being. Her joy made you want to get up and dance! She moved through her patterns confidently and with precision and ease, even when the song changed rhythms and moved faster! She didn’t miss a beat and had everyone tapping their feet and intoxicated by her jovial musicality.

The first act ended with Margit Jano and Joseph Powe’s amazing first showcase with Callie and Maxi. They danced to the song “I See The Light” from the movie Tangled.   Margit and Callie stunned in purple and silver dresses and were led perfectly by Maxi and Joseph. It was hard to believe this was their first showcase as they kept the timing of Rumba like professional dancers, and added stunning arms accenting their every movement.  Rumba is known as the dance of love, and from the first moment of the dance until the final embrace you felt that love. When Joseph and Margit completed their debut there was a happily ever after feeling that left everyone anticipating the second act.

 By: Kamaria George (11/21/2017)