2016 Ft. Wayne Dance For All

Footloose In Ft. Wayne

OMGoodness…where do we begin?  First and foremost, Barney and I want to express our thanks for everyone who attended the 2016 Ft. Wayne Dance for All.  We are truly blessed by the support and look forward to continuing the tradition of hosting one of the BEST dance weekends!  We must first give a big shout out to our fabulous staff (Jo Thompson-Szymanski, John Robinson, Frank Trace, Brandon Zahorsky, Jason & Sophy Miklic, Nelson Clarke, Bracken Potter, Alice Daugherty, Tim Hand, Mark & Mary Harris, Jill Babinec, Donnie Allen, Bev Carpenter, Amy Christian, Pam & Eagle Lindsey, Melissa Culbertson, Tina Foster, Judy McDonald, Derek Steele, Jessica Bryant-Fields, David Royer, Mark Weisenburger, Betty Moses, Jen Newton-Zappulla, Debbie Snell (Clogging), Machelle Cook-Holloway, Pete Zappulla, Earleen Wolford, Karen Mudge, Eddie Bowles, Merle & Sally Shock, Larry Harmon (High-Tech DJ), Edie Driskill (LineLessons.com), Deb Cleckler (NTA), JP Potter (Master of Music), April Prince (Couples DJ), Tina Veliotis & Debi Pancoast (Registration) for all their hard work and dedication for making the event such a huge success!

Guests started arriving early on Thursday to pick up their packets, which included the program, their wristband, a highlighter, name badge and a special “thank you” (a hotel door hanger with the 2016 logo that said “Shhhh Dancer Sleeping”).  Everyone loved the door hanger.  When asked, did you use your door hanger…guests laughed and said “I don’t want anyone to take it…I want to take it home”!  We’ll consider that a compliment!  The highlighter wasn’t necessary if you checked out eventMINDER.com.  This program allows you to schedule and customize your workshop schedule as well as get updates on 50/50 drawings, Chinese Auction and Choreography winners.  You can select dance workshops from line, couples or pattern partner.  You can select all workshops offered by a favorite instructor.  You can rate the workshop right on your phone.  It’s not too late to let us know what your favorite workshops were.  Log on and create the schedule by the classes you attended and rate the workshop. Thursday night’s Welcoming Party party offered guests two huge ballrooms to kick off their weekend.

Friday kicked off at 8:00 am with Jamie leading ZUMBA, Deb Clecker offering NTA and seminars introducing NEXTLINEDANCE.COM and eventMINDER.  The 2016 Ft. Wayne Dance for All was the official launch of NEXTLINEDANCE.COM.  This new program allows dancers to see what dance is being played in each ballroom, as well as what is coming up!  Something more exciting, you can tap on the name of the dance and it will take you to Copperknob to view the step sheet!  But wait…there’s more!  Requests can be sent immediately to the DJ.  So many guests starting using this fabulous new program, that Pete Zappulla (creator) had to double his capacity on his provider!  WAY TO GO GUESTS!  I’m sure other events will be interested!  Contact Pete at petezappulla@gmail.com. For guests who do not like carrying around a paper schedule, their personal selection of workshops can be saved to their favorites on eventMINDER.  Never miss a workshop because you thought it was at a different time or in a different ballroom.

Workshops began Friday at 9:00 in seven ballrooms.  Dancers moved throughout the beautiful Grand Wayne Center with “early in the day” energy to take on all levels for so many different styles of dances ranging from line dance to couples to ballroom.  At 11:00 several guests participated in the High-Tech DJ seminar offered by Larry Harmon.  Beginner clogging was scheduled at noon while Jamie and Candee Seger taught “Dance with Ya” to dancers who wanted to participate in the Drew Baldridge’s “Dance Off” for a chance to win $250! A concession stand offering a variety of salads and sandwiches, snacks and drinks was available for the convenience of our guests.  Don’t you just love the smell of popcorn?

With great anticipation, the choreography exhibition kicked off promptly at 1:00 in the Main Ballroom.  The Ft. Wayne Dance for All hosted the largest choreography exhibition in the USA in 2015.  With 43 entries at this year’s event, we are excited about what our dancers would bring in 2016. Awards were presented at 7:00 in the Main Ballroom.  Congratulations to Gail Dawson for winning the Beginner and Improver divisions. Brandi Gross won Intermediate/Adv and Phrased divisions.  Brandi Gross also took home the $250 OVERALL title from our official sponsor, Cold River Records, (www.coldriverrecords.com) for entering three of our four divisions and having the highest total scores.  There were so many great entries!  Visit this page, for a list of the top three entries in each division. Saturday’s demos began immediately after the choreography exhibition.  A much need dinner break was scheduled from 5:00 – 7:00.

Guest instructor, Aijaye Crowder, offered a special hip-hop class at 7:15 in the All Requests Ballroom.  WOW!  We were pleasantly surprised by this young, inspiring instructor from right there in Fort Wayne!  His talent is unmatched in our community, his personality kept everyone feeling comfortable and that young man can sure dance!!  His “Uptown Funk” routine had everyone “stylin’ whilen, livin’ it up in the city”!  We are thrilled having Aijaye join our staff in 2017!

Line dancers filled the huge dance floor in the Main Ballroom while Tim Hand & Alice Daugherty kept the party going in the “All Requests” room.  Couples were swinging, 2-stepping, and waltzing in the couples’ ballroom as April Prince played various styles of music to please everyone.  A Pattern Partner ballroom hosted by Eddie Bowles and Karen Mudge was offered in 2016.  Dan & Sheila Burks played the tunes to have our Pattern Partner couples remember Friday’s lessons and dancing to few favorites as well.  It was so much fun watching dancers dash from one room to the other because of NEXTLINEDANCE.COM.  (Way to go Pete!)

Dancers enjoyed dancing today’s hottest new dances, yesterday’s classics and oldies but goodies until 2:00 am.  A big THANK YOU to our Master of Music, JP Potter.  So many guests commented, “we have danced more tonight than we have in a very long time!”

Eight o’clock came early on Saturday, but Jamie had the energy high for the second ZUMBA class of the weekend.  It is always such a pleasure to introduce ZUMBA to guests who say that “this was my first ZUMBA class and I loved it”!  Thank you to all my “overachievers” who came and “Ditched the Workout and Joined My Party”.  While dancers were keeping up with the “single, single, double” rhythm, Jo Thompson-Szymanski was in the lobby demonstrating to guests how to create the perfect, fun t-shirt.  This special “How to Design & Cut a T-Shirt” workshop is such a great added value to the event!  It will be scheduled later in the day in 2017 so more guests may attend.

Workshops started promptly at 9:00 am with workshops in 6 ballrooms and NTA offering Dance Fundamentals I (Foot Positions, Step Correctly) and Dance Fundamentals II (Follow up to DF I to include triple turns)  LineLessons were offered 4 hours throughout the day, hosted by Brandon Zahorsky, Lynn Card, Judy McDonald and Amy Christian.  Larry Harmon’s NEW “Audio Editing: Mix & Mash” class was at 3:00.  This new workshop was an extension from his Friday workshop, High-Tech DJ.  Winning Choreography was scheduled on Saturday too!

We had a great response to the Team Exhibition from 2015.  We were thrilled to have eight groups taking the dance floor to perform and entertain.  Congratulations to everyone to participated and we look forward to what you will bring in 2017.  The Cold River Records’ “Dance Off” immediately followed the Team Exhibition.  About 20 dancers who learned the “Dance with Ya” on Friday, as well as a few who knew the dance prior to the event, took the floor for the chance to win $250.  All dancers received a CD from Marco Club Connection.  Semi-finalists also received a “Drew Crew” t-shirt. Congratulations to our three finalists, Brandi Gross, Sharri Rogers and Eric Bricker.  It was a tough task for our judges because all three dancers had a different style and something special.  Finalists were awarded a “Bobblehead” of Drew Baldridge!  In the end, the deciding factor was the fun and entertainment values.  Congratulations to Eric Bricker for winning with his high energy during his performance.

Staff held their final walk-though for Footloose at 5:00.  (We really should consider a “blooper” DVD!) When practice ended at 6:00, dancers were already lined up in the lobby area anxiously waiting for the doors to open at 7:15.  They were not disappointed!  The energy was so high!  Several dancers dressed in 80’s costumes.  The “Footloose” logo was shining brightly.  Pictures were being taken.  Music was playing!  Everyone was smiling and waving…it’s a director’s dream moment!

The show, FOOTLOOSE, began promptly at 8:00 with America’s National Anthem.  The lights went down..SHOWTIME!  John Robinson (Reverend) took his place in the center of the dance floor to explain why dancing and rock & roll music was banned in Ft. Wayne.  With co-stars, Jo Thompson-Szymanski (Ariel), Jason Miklic (Ren), Nelson Clarke (Willard), Sophy Miklic (Rusty), Derek Steele (Chuck), Bracken (Vi) and Alice (Eleanor), and the rest of the amazing staff, show was perfect!  Most all of the original “Footloose” (1984) highlights were captured (and slightly modified) to bring the best entertainment to our guests.  Music with performances by line dancers included “Holding Out for a Hero”, “Fake ID (Blake Shelton), and “Hurts So Good”.   Couples captivated the audience with routines to “Dancing in the Sheets”, “Let’s Hear it for the Boys” (Jason & Nelson), and “Almost Paradise”.  The chicken scene was changed to have Jason and Derek’s race towards each other as “Chariots of Fire” enhanced their slow movements while cheers were seen (not heard) from friends on each side!  (You had to be there to experience and appreciate the fabulously funny take on this scene!)  Of course at the end of the show, the young people get to hold their dance with the blessing of the Reverned and Town Council.  Introductions of the staff were made prior to Jamie & Barney saying Thank You to the over 800 guests for their support of the 2016 Ft. Wayne Dance for All…and before introducing the theme for 2017…

The lights were lowered as the spotlight appeared in the center of the dance floor with red, ruby slippers shining brightly!  As Dorothy (Jo Thompson-Szymanski) clicked her heels together saying “There’s No Place like Home!”.  Suddenly her feet were tapping and she was saying “There’s No Place like Ft. Wayne!”  The Scarecrow (John Robinson), stumbled up to Dorothy as the staff got into position to encourage everyone to “Ease on Down the Road” for the 2017 Ft. Wayne Dance for All! The crowd’s excitement assured us that we made the right decision for next year’s show!

Each year a special staff member is recognized for their support, hard work and dedication to the event.  This year, John Robinson was acknowledged .  John has been with the event from the beginning and holds a very special place in the history and will forever be a major part of future events.  He always goes above and beyond any requests, works his tail off for the show and our guests simply adore him.  John was still in costume from the closing number and when Jamie and Barney asked him to say something, he said “I can’t, I don’t have a Brain”…that’s why we love him so much!

Shortly after the show, raffle tickets from the Chinese Auction were drawn.  All proceeds from the Chinese Auction are donated to this year’s charity, AIDS WALK OF OHIO (www.aidswalkohio.com). Thank you to guests who purchased raffle tickets.  Thank you to friends who donated passes and items for the raffle:  Windy City Line Dance Mania, Dance for a Cure, A Taste of Windy City Line Dance Mania, Dance! Dance! Dance!, JC Dance Productions (Line Dance Showdown, Tampa Bay Line Dance Classic, Fun In The Sun), Celebrate Dance!, Parkersburg Line Dance Workshop, Ohio Summer Classic, Dancin’ Up a Storm, Motor City Dance Classic, Summertime Sparkle at Cotton Eyed Joe, Line Dance Marathon, Jo’s Special Handmade Cards, and Perfectly Posh.

Sunday arrived early for weary dancers with tired, sore feet from two days and three nights of non-stop fun!  John Robinson kicked the day off in the Main Ballroom with a brand new dance, Spending Spree, choreographed especially for the AIDS WALK of OHIO fundraiser.  Sunday also offers a two-hour review of Pattern Partner dances as well as workshop in all ballrooms until closing at 2:00.

As guests checked out of the hotels, several making their reservations for 2017, the energy and the excitement for the weekend turns to loving, kind words of appreciation for all the hard work that is put into making the Ft. Wayne Dance for All such a special event.  Many first-time guests said “these dancers are the nicest people we have ever met!”  Jamie and Barney were stopped several times to hear comments like “people are here to dance” or “I’ve danced more this weekend than any other time in my life” and “this event really is a “Dance for All”.

DVDs for all workshops, choreography, teams and “Footloose in Ft. Wayne” are available.  Click here for the order form.    You may also order the step descriptions (sent electronically) for only $15 (Almost 150 dances which includes pattern partner and choreography.)

We hope you will make plans to join the 2017 Ft. Wayne Dance for All on March 2nd-5th.  Call your friends and invite them to join you.  “The Wiz of Ft. Wayne” promises to be another great performance!  We are asking everyone to celebrate by wearing “GREEN” on Saturday night for the show or to dress as your favorite Wizard of Oz character.

On-line registration will be available shortly.  Don’t forget to pre-order your event t-shirt and step description media.  Make your hotel reservations at the Hilton Grand Wayne by calling 260-420-1100 ($106 + Parking). Reservations for the Courtyard Marriott can be made after April 3, 2016, by calling 260-490-3629 ($114 – includes breakfast (2) and Parking (1)).  There’s a free shuttle from FWA to the hotels.  Visit www.ftwaynedanceforall.com often for updates!