Gotta Dance fundraiser brings community together | RecordCourier.com

Gotta Dance fundraiser brings community together

by Ron Walker

It's Madam "X" on the telephone (my anonymous benefactor). "Would you, Orllyene, and Debbie like to go to the Gotta Dance event on March 21?" I accept immediately.

The night arrives. Orllyene, Debbie and are dressed to the teeth, and it's a good thing, too. The elite of Minden and Gardnerville are there. When we arrive, St. Gall's parking lot is swarming with cars. The lobby of the auditorium is buzzing with excitement. We press our way through the crowd, into the auditorium. Dozens of elaborately decorated tables circle the dance floor. Hundreds of people are chatting excitedly. This is more than a just a dance contest, it's a celebration.

After everyone is seated, Debbie Posnien, the heart and soul of the event, takes the microphone.

"Gotta Dance is one of the ways we raise money to help people who have given up on life. They have decided that they don't want to live anymore," she said. Then she talks about the network of help that exists. She mentions the many volunteers it takes for this event.

"Tonight, we will see some very special volunteers." They are the 20 contestants of Gotta Dance. Do you have any idea of how much courage it takes to go out on a dance floor and perform in front of hundreds of people? After you partner up, new steps keep coming at you, week after week. You then commit them to memory. Next your music is played, and you dance to the music for the first time. Good partnering becomes your goal. Dancing together shouldn't look like a struggle of wills. Adjustments are made, and compromises arrived at and soon everyone is saying how well you two look dancing together. Sometimes you have a ton of fun dancing together. At other times, it can best be described as dueling. Finally, you're ready, and it's showtime.

The judges are introduced, and the 20 contestants march between the tables, and form a large circle on the dance floor. Their costumes are flashy, mysterious, gorgeous, and kooky. The audience stands up and salutes the 10 couples with cheers, shouts and whistles. Five couples are given their chance to dance. After they dance, the judges offer their comments and scores. The audience applauds, and cheers for their favorites. The dancing is excellent, and we don't see a single flub.

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At the half-way point, the MC says, "Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for our intermission. The buffet table is loaded with brownies, cookies and chocolate éclairs. Please help yourselves."

I load up a plate, and return to our table. I can think of nothing better than eating chocolate éclairs, and watching dancers strut their stuff.

"Madam "X's" table is right next to the dance floor. I have a perfect view. Five more couples come out and perform. We see jive, tango, fox trot, lindy, waltz, all foot stompin' music. Several couples receive "9s" from the judges. Others get standing ovations. Craig and Ann Peters have done a remarkable job of giving these 10 couples choreography that suits them, and is also fun for the audience to watch. Balanchine couldn't have done any better.

Everyone has danced, the scores are being tabulated, and a surprise awaits us. Ms. Posnien introduces Alisa Merino, Miss Douglas County, and Silver State Princess, Emily Meier. They will perform "You're Never Alone."

Alisa, is a graceful, blond dancer of medium height. She walks cautiously onto the dance floor. Emily is a tiny version of Alisa. Dancing separately, Emily mirrors Alisa's movements. They glide, turn and leap. Some movements are strong, and at times, powerful. Others are gentle and tender. At one point, I almost jump out of my chair. Each of the dancers crashes to the floor with a great thump. The full meaning of the words, "You're Never Alone," resonates throughout the room. Alisa and Emily receive a well-deserved standing ovation.

What a night. The people of Minden and Gardnerville have done themselves proud. We shared more joy, fun, laughter, and good times than a flock of New Year's Eves put together.

The audience is up and dancing as we put on our coats. Complete strangers are joking and joshing with each other. One woman says to me, "don't I know you from somewhere?" When I tell her I write for The Record-Courier, she replies, "Nope, I don't think that's where I've seen you. You're not as good lookin' as that guy."

Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at walkover@smithnv.com.