A lot of different sport events have had their day in the gymnasium at Reseda High School. But, I’m willing to bet, that they have never had a dance extravaganza take place, like the 3rdAnnual DREAM Showcase, in their gym! At 6:00 PM on May 9, 2019, there wasn’t a place to sit in the bleachers! By 6:30 PM, there was standing room only! This gym was packed with parents, relatives, and friends on one side. While on the other side of the gym, there were excited, happy children, looking great in their nice outfits, ready, willing and able to perform for their families, friends, and school faculty! While we were waiting for the show to start, children and parents were getting their picture taken by Fordney Foundation’s resident photographer and co-director, Alex Havasi. Pictures were taken on a red carpet, complete with stanchions and Fordney Foundation backdrop! What a great night it was!
This was the evening that both Colfax Charter Elementary School and Woodlake Community Charter Schools, 4thand 5thgraders, 370 students in all, come together to delight the enthusiastic crowd with dances they learned for the last 30 weeks from their dance teacher, Erica Arnold. Dances performed at this showcase were: Tango, Syncopated Hustle, Nightclub 2 Step, Cha Cha, Foxtrot, Samba and Tango. We were entertained with great tunes, provided by our DJ, Tom Mendola.
DREAM stands for Discover, Respect, Express, Achieve, Motivation. This non-profit program is entirely funded by the Fordney Foundation. It is the brainchild of Marilyn Fordney, director of Fordney Foundation and Erica Arnold, professional dancer and dance instructor. Together they came up with a 30-week dance program to teach children to dance. To find out more about DREAM, you can follow the DREAM program on: Facebook – @dreamdanceprogram, Instagram – @dreamdanceprogram and Twitter – @dreamdanceprogram. If you are interested in taking dance lessons, find out more about it by contacting Erica at EA Dance: firstname.lastname@example.org and find out about all of their dance programs.
This year, as our Master of Ceremonies, we welcomed Bella Shaw. Bella previously worked at CNN for 10 years, she is an actress, does infomercials and voice work. Before Bella introduced the first group of dancers; she let the audience know that DVD’s of this night’s DREAM Showcase are available for $20. Contact Erica if you are interested in purchasing a DVD.
Also, as a new and exciting feature added to DREAM’s program this year, we were off the charts, crazy, happy (the kids loved them) to have a distinguished panel of judges on board. Throughout the night, they judged the final, best dancers competing from both of the schools. These very cool, professional judges were:
Gleb Savchenko is a Russian dancer and choreographer. Currently, Gleb is a professional dancer on the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars. In 2016, Savchenko took part in the British television cooking show Celebrity MasterChef. Gleb and his wife own and operate Pro Dance, dance studio, in West Hollywood, CA. Gleb generously donated a gift certificate for lessons at his studio, as part of our raffle!
Magda Fialek is a national U.S. ballroom dance champion and amateur Latin champion. She first made a name for herself competing in the Canadian circuit, which eventually led to an appearance on the TV show Dancing at the Palais. Magda is a two time USA dance national champion.
Lev Cameron is a dancer who became a pro dancer on Dancing with the Stars: Juniors in 2018. In 2016, he was in the Top 30 of So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation, and in 2017 appeared on Little Big Shots with his dance partner Sofia Sachenko. He was also in Justin Timberlake’s 2016 video, Can’t Stop The Feeling.
Congratulations to all of our winners of the finals, each receiving a trophy:
Cha Cha – 3rd place Samson and Julian
2nd place Donte and Jessica
1st place Kairo and Ava
Foxtrot – 3rd place Titus and Paisley
2nd place Dylan and Ava
1st place Mose and Arina
Rumba – 3rd place Jake and Ella
2nd place Liam and Brenally
1st place Dmitry and Marleen
Samba – 3rd place Audrey and Logan
2nd place Liam and Zahara
1st place Dmitry and Sydni
Also, happening throughout the night, there were a lot of lucky people with winning raffle tickets, who won some nice prizes, such as, dance lessons, T-shirts, jewelry and even a way-cool virtual reality headset!
These prizes were courtesy of Lucille’s BBQ, Pinot Palette, Dee Berkley Jewelry, Goodie Two Sleeve, EA Dance, Prodance LA, Vertigo Attractions & Parties, Globonet, and The Stadium Inc.
After all the students had performed and the winners of the final prizes had been announced, it was time to be entertained by some professional and Pro-Am dance performers. First up was Artemi Okunev (Erica’s husband) and his dance student, Anna Gilichensky. Before they performed, Erica told us that Anna was their shy student that started learning ballroom dance at four years old. Now she is a champion at competitions! And they were lots of fun to watch and looked great
doing a Samba.
Then we saw the beautiful and talented Monet Pinkett dancing the Jive with her partner, Edgar Khachaturov. They literally tore up the dance floor, looking terrific! After that performance, the kids rallied around Monet, in awe of her and her remarkable skills on the dance floor!
DREAM Showcase 2019, Monet and Edgar, Photo Source: Alex Havasi
Last, but not least, Erica and Artemi were great, as always, on the dance floor, gliding effortlessly, and once again, the kids rallied around Erica after her performance, to show how much they admire her!
Marilyn Fordney, the founder and director of Fordney Foundation, thanked everyone
for coming to this event to support our efforts and their children. She called this night, “an unbelievable experience.” Marilyn Fordney, “Winkie,” as she is called by many; then introduced Jolin Crofts. Jolin Crofts is a conscientious filmmaker/producer that is very interested in the life of Marilyn Fordney. Jolin was equally blown away by this experience and expressed her intentions of moving forward to make a documentary on Marilyn Fordney’s life as a child and the hardships she endured, as well as her present day involvement with both non-profit foundations, the Fordney Foundation and Havasi Wilderness Foundation. The mission of this documentary is to impact the lives of children in the future and will require fundraising.
If you would like to help many more children to learn to ballroom dance, contribute to our DREAM program or contribute to Winkie, the upcoming documentary, 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.
It was then time to give out the beautiful and well-earned, Fordney Foundation medals to all the students, to congratulate them for completing their ballroom dance classes and a job well done!
The Fordney Foundation and DREAM would like to give a special shout out to our friend Karen Gross, who helps us in so many ways by spreading the word about our cause and making sure our events are always successful! Thank you Karen for inviting special guests, Renee Cofield of Los Angeles Unified School District – Local District Northwest and Tessa Charnofsky, District Director, West Valley/Mountain Communities – Field Office of LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. Thank you for being part of our showcase. It was a pleasure to have you attend on this special night!
We all personally thank Reseda High School for allowing us to use their gymnasium to host our event. It takes a lot of people, wearing many hats, to make an event like this successful.
First, we do it for them and thank every one of the children who participated in the DREAM program and performed at this event. You were incredible!
We want to personally thank the Principal of Woodlake, Mario Thompson for allowing us to bring our DREAM dance program to his school and attending the showcase. We also thank the following 4thand 5thgrade teachers from Woodlake who also supported our efforts.
Tiffany Cullen’s 4th-grade class
Kate Oltz’s 5th-grade class
Irene Miramontez’s 5th-grade
Kendra Barbula’s 4th-grade class
Alexandra Williams 5th-grade class
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
Thank you, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends for supporting these children on this special night. Having support means everything to us all! Super “thank yous” to our emcee, Bella Shaw and to our DJ, Tom Mendola. We appreciate your participation, making this event so successful. We were honored to have the special final judge panel of Gleb Savchenko, Magda Fialek and Lev Cameron. It was beyond super, for all of us, to have you with us! All of these fantastic 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. Artemi, always does so much to help out! Monet Pinkett, not only danced for us, blowing us all away, with her partner, Edgar Khachaturov, but Monet also helps out with the teaching of the classes too! We love your contribution to our event and thank you and Marla (Monet’s mom) always, for being with us!
We thank everyone who volunteered to help us put this showcase together. Another special “thank you” goes to Cindy Arnold, (Erica’s mom) who always does so much to help us. Thank you too, Adina Gilbert, who is a student of EA Dance. You did a great job at the door with tickets. We are thrilled to bring great prizes to our DREAM event and that is the reason we want to thank our sponsors: Lucille’s BBQ, Pinot Palette, Dee Berkley Jewelry, Goodie Two Sleeve, EA Dance, Prodance LA, Vertigo Attractions & Parties, Globonet and The Stadium Inc. And, to our additional sponsors: Smart & Final, Logix and Vallarta Supermarket, we appreciate your participation at this event!
Special, doesn’t even begin to describe both Erica Arnold and Marilyn Fordney. These ladies derive great pleasure from seeing these children dance and thrive. Through their individual efforts, they bring special development opportunities to young people. It is a beautiful journey that they created where no space existed before. Thank you Erica for donating your marvelous talent! And to you, Marilyn Fordney, for your continued generosity and gracious gift of dance!
Thought Of The Week:
To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care – Mandy Hale