How many dance showcases have you attended with a red carpet, stanchions and backdrop, complete with the Fordney Foundaton logo and social media addresses on it? “None, except for the 2ndAnnual DREAM Showcase!” That’s right, compliments of the Fordney Foundation, you could take a picture and feel like a star right there, upon entering our Showcase. And that’s what many of our students and guests did both at the beginning of the event and after the event!
We were instantly charmed by the handsome and engaging, Master of Ceremonies, Jonathan Curtis, as he welcomed us to the 2ndAnnual DREAM Showcase at 6:00 PM on May 31, 2018. He seemed to calm the “synchronized chaos” inside this auditorium, that was graciously donated to us by North Hollywood High School for the evening. The room was buzzing with anticipation, excitement and generally happy kids just waiting to entertain the full house in attendance. Add to that, the “cool sounds” of music all night long, brought to us by DJ, Tom Mendola.
Jonathan, who is an actor, dancer and choreographer himself, explained the value of each person who was in the room (which also got the room to calm down and listen to his words). He said we were all individuals, unique, and each one of us makes a difference in the world!
Jonathan spoke of the DREAM dance program and what it represents. DREAM is a non-profit program that teaches ballroom dance to children and to: Discover, Respect, Express, Achieve, Motivation. You can contact DREAM at www.dreamdanceprogram.org. You can also follow the DREAM program on: Facebook – @dreamdanceprogram, Instagram – @dreamdanceprogram and Twitter – @DREAMdanceprogram. Erica Arnold, dance instructor, extraordinaire, learns each and every one of her student’s names and loves teaching kids to dance. Jonathan gave us a little background information on Erica. Her love for dance started very early in life. Erica is trained in Ballet, Jazz, Ballroom, Tap, and Hip Hop. She has been a featured dancer on many television shows. This includes the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. She was also Junior National Champion in Ballroom dance in 2002. Both Erica and her partner represented the United States in the World’s Junior Ballroom Championship and placed 46thin the world! Currently, Erica and her husband, Artemi Okunev, teach at EA Dance. It is a dance studio creatively designed to bring health, fun and competitive value to your dance experience. EADANCELA@GMAIL.COM.
Right now, we have two schools performing and representing our Showcase, Woodlake Elementary Community Charter School and Colfax Charter Elementary School. The objective of this 30-week course is to make ladies and gentlemen of these children by developing their social skills and giving them tools to become contributing members of society.
It was soon time to see our young dancers perform. The first school to dance for us was Woodlake’s 4thGrade class. Woodlake and Colfax schools took turns performing. The last school to perform was Colfax’s 4thand 5thgraders. We all enjoyed each school performance, as we were thoroughly entertained throughout the night with the Cha Cha, Samba, Night Club Two-Step, Swing, Waltz, Tango,, and Foxtrot.
All the students not only looked great, they danced their best and it showed. It was so much fun when Jonathan would call different students up on stage, at different times, from the crowd, to give out raffle prizes or have them perform impromptu for prizes themselves. We had contests for the best dancer; that got the whole auditorium crazy with excitement. One student said, “This was the most exciting thing that ever happened to him.” The winners of the dance contest won free 30-minute dance class lessons from EA Dance. Also, Jonathan would actually walk around and let parents speak to their kids, while they were performing on stage. It was all about the children and they rocked the house! The audience was into it and it proved to be a very fun, interactive event for the children and audience alike! And this year, DVD’s are available for the purchase of this Showcase. Go to #dreamdanceprogram for details.
Speaking of raffles, we gave away lots of awesome prizes all through the night. Some lucky people received gift cards from restaurants like Jinky’s Café, Brent’s Deli and more, plus Sky Zone Passes, a Hand Made Quilt, lots of great books, a Mommy Retreat Gift Card to name a few of the great prizes and the final prize of the evening was a “Wheel of Fortune” bag that even included 4 tickets in it to see the show in person! Thank you to our raffle sponsors: Cynthia and Michael Hotta, Marilyn Fordney and Alex Havasi, Brent’s Deli, AMF, Jinky’s Café, Sky Zone, Cheese Cake Factory, Wheel of Fortune, Dee Berkley Jewelry, Mommy’s Retreat and EA Dance.
After all the schools performed, we were treated to a wonderful Pro-Am, Jive performance from Artemi Okunev (Erica’s husband) and Anna Gilichensky, Erica and Artemi’s student from EA Dance, dancing to George Michael’s “Never Gonna Dance Again.”
For the last dance performance, we got a special treat! We got to see Erica dance with her husband, Artemi, doing a Tango and Cha Cha. They were wonderful. Everybody truly enjoyed their performance!
After all the dance performances, we heard from Marilyn Fordney. She appreciates the support for the DREAM program and especially thanked the parents. She mentioned that a future season of Dancing With The Stars, will feature children and some of the competitors in our national dance series have auditioned. We are very excited about this. She emphasized how our Youth and Junior competitions have expanded dance competitions from 3 to 4 days to 5 and 6 days because young people are becoming more and more involved in doing competitive ballroom dancing. Mrs. Fordney also said, there is even a Teddy Bear Group; which means children are starting out younger and younger to enter dance contests. Mrs. Fordney said that ballroom dancing for youth and juniors has come a long way since she started her non-profit organization in 2002. Mrs. Fordney and her husband, Alex Havasi (our resident photographer) have another non-profit organization called, Havasi Wilderness Foundation www.havasiwf.org. Mrs. Fordney is asking if we can do what we can to support these non-profit organizations, so we will be able to add more schools. We would like to teach many more grade school children to dance in local schools, but that will depend on future funds available. Mrs. Fordney thanked her guest, Jeremy Chaffin of Telos Capital Management, for his financial guidance throughout the years and for coming out and supporting our Showcase!
It was then time to give out the beautiful Fordney Foundation medals to all the students, to congratulate them for completing their ballroom dance classes and a job well done!
We want to personally thank the Principal of Woodlake, Mario Thompson for allowing us to bring our DREAM dance program to his school. We also thank the following 4thand 5thgrade teachers from Woodlake who also supported our efforts. We’re so glad you are there!
Tiffany Cullen’s 4th-grade class
Kate Oltz’s 5th-grade class
Christina Oseguera’s 4th-grade class
Irene Miramontez’s 5th-grade
Kendra Barbula’s 4th-grade class
Alexandra Williams 5th-grade clas
We also personally thank Principal, Robyn Friedman of Colfax School and the following teachers for your guidance and support.
Teresa Maynes 4thgrade class, Room 25
Sarah Howe’s 4thgrade class, Room 21
Anya Hulett’s 4thgrade class, Room 23
Bridget Bett’s 4thgrade class, Room 22
Meghan Hanlon’s 5thgrade class, Room 17
Anya Hulett’s 5thgrade class, Room 23
Gail Craven’s 5thgrade class, Room 19
We wish to thank every one of our children for their great performances as well as your principals and all of your great teachers for making this show a huge success! We want to give a big shout out to Patty Wagon and California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) for providing food trucks and keeping our guests happy and well fed! Thank you, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends for supporting these children. Having support means everything to us all! Super “thank yous” to our emcee, Jonathan Curtis and to our DJ, Tom Mendola, we could not have done it at all without you guys!! We thank North Hollywood High again, for the use of the auditorium. All of these beautiful photos come to us from Alex Havasi, and we especially appreciate your time for all of the set up for the “movie star” picture taking! Thank you Artemi Okunev and Anna Gilichensky for performing at our Showcase. We thank everyone who helped us put this showcase together. You are all very important and you are: Karen Gross, Cindy Arnold, Esme Takahashi, Monet Pinkett, Loren Silverman, Galina Silverman, Mike and Maya Urshansky and everyone else who helped!
The Fordney Foundation is proud of our association with Erica Arnold and DREAM. We see the incredible results she gets in teaching children to dance. This event is about the children and dance but it is also about their journey that their kind and patient dance instructor created especially for them. It takes a special person, we thank you Erica!
We had so much fun bringing you the 2ndAnnual DREAM Showcase. And, as we say “good-bye to school and hello to summer,” we thank you so much for coming to our Showcase. There is something else we would like you to know. The opportunity to see young, local school children, learn how to ballroom dance comes from the generosity of Marilyn Fordney and the Fordney Foundation alone. Currently, in both Woodlake and Colfax schools, like so many other schools, there is no dance program available at all. Mrs. Fordney gives from her heart because she feels dancing lends itself to positivity and balance both physically and mentally throughout your life. She wants to see young people experience the gift of dance! We thank Marilyn Fordney for this gracious gift. There would be no dance program or showcase without her.
If you would like to help many more children to learn to ballroom dance, contribute to our DREAM program. Go to www.fordneyfoundation.org and click on the “Donate” tab and scroll down to “Go Fund Me” button or you can send a check directly to the foundation at the address that appears on the website at the end of that page.
Marilyn Fordney, Erica Arnold, Artemi Okunev, Photo by Alex Havasi
Thought Of The Week:
A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help others – Collective Evolution