DWOLS – Winter Showcase January 31, 2015

If you were able to hang in there with us with all the rescheduling we had to do to get this showcase to happen, let me tell you, it was well worth it! We all had a great time with a few surprises thrown in too.  Our Dancing With Our Local Schools (DWOLS) event was hosted by La Reina High School and sponsored by the Fordney Foundation in partnership with Dance 4 Wellness. We are pleased to tell you that there was barely an open seat left, this large auditorium/gym filled up nicely and it was all about DANCE. We had over 600 people in attendance with 5 schools involved in our program. Over $1,500 was raised that night which allows us to sponsor an additional classroom or 30 more students in our program next year!  This was such a special night, please enjoy photos of the entire event!

Michael Bates, Head of La Reina High School, started things off by letting us know that this was the 50th Anniversary of this school. And on Friday night they hosted Prom Night and left the festive decorations for us – a big “thank you” for that Mr. Bates! We were then introduced to Maria Durant, who is the owner of Dance 4 Wellness and a huge part of this dance program, as well as our wonderful moderator for the evening.  Maria then introduced Mrs. Marilyn Fordney, the founder of

Fordney Foundation, a non-profit dance/dancesport organization designed to bring the joy of dance to children in schools. The Fordney Foundation also sponsors gifted young dancers who wish to become professional ballroom dancers.   There are over 4,000 students who have participated in this dance school program. And the list is growing. There are three schools on a list, just waiting to be added to our program. Mrs. Fordney was single-handedly providing funds for these programs all these years. We are now at a place where financial support from the community is the only way we can add more schools to our program.

Here’s where the surprise came in. Mrs. Fordney was presented with a prestigious certificate from the mayor of City of Thousand Oaks, Al Adam, for her excellent achievement in bringing the arts to our schools in the Conejo Valley. It is quite an honor! We all congratulate Mrs. Fordney for this well deserved award. And that’s not all, Mrs. Galina Silverman, the mother of Loren Silverman, one of our show stopping acts for the evening, and our First Place Top 10 Latin Junior winner, along with his partner, Monet Pinkett, at the 37th Ohio Star Ball/Fordney

Foundation Youth Series in November 2014, presented Mrs. Fordney on behalf of parents and children, a Humanitarian Award for 2015, for her outstanding contribution and representation in dancesport. A very great honor indeed!

This program could not even exist without the dance instructors and program direction of Dance 4 Wellness, Maria Durant, Erica Arnold and Todd Hansen. These talented dance professionals each have a list of credits so long; we’d be here all day if I tried to list everything. Let’s just say, you are all awesome, the kids adore you and you all did a super job!

We thank each and every one of our students who participated in our program as well as their teachers and principals. You all helped making this a most successful and fun event.

Maple Elementary 4th and 5th graders did the Hustle and Night Club Two Step. We were pleased to hear from Principal Juan Santos who is quite pro-active in our program and said his students were “amazing.” Principal Santos also thanked Mrs. Babcock for her wonderful help in this dance program.

Next we saw Westlake Hills Elementary perform the Cha Cha and Swing.  This school had two groups.  Mrs. Harding spoke on behalf of her 5th graders and brought up another teacher and a parent both explaining what the program meant to them and the children. Later that night, the second class of 4th graders performed the Cha Cha and Swing.

River Oaks Academy students did a very impressive waltz for us to see.  Claudia Weintraub – Director of River Oaks Academy spoke on behalf of her school on what the program has done for her students. Later that night, the students gave us a second performance of various dances. These students have been dancing for a couple of years. Their ages range from 8 to 16 years old.

Conejo Elementary had two groups of girls. The boys got to come back and perform a second time doing the Merengue and Salsa. We heard from Principal Dena Sellers who spoke about the pro-social skills her children experience along with how to interact with

each other. We are happy to say, Principal Sellers has been with us from the very beginning.  She has been a constant supporter. We thank you Principal Sellers for continually helping to spread the news about our program!

St. Augustine Academy’s 9th and 10th graders performed a Swing and Fox Trot for us. Principal Michael Van Hecke expressed that the DWOLS program is “true, good and beautiful.” He further stated that the “program promotes dignity between the sexes.” The 11th and 12th graders performed the Tango and Rumba.

We learned about something new that Dance 4 Wellness has added. It is called the ‘Swing Formation Team.’ These three couples came out, the girls in lovely green dresses, the boys in all black. These couples have only been dancing for three months and it looked like they were all having fun. This was their first performance and the premiere of ‘Swing Formation Team.’ If you are interested in being part of ‘Swing Formation Team,’ these classes occur outside of the classroom. New enrollment starts in February and is open to all students. Please contact Dance 4 Wellness for further details: 805-991-6113.

It was then time to be dazzled by Sarah in her stunning orange costume doing the Samba with the fabulous Todd. They were terrific! Speaking of terrific and bringing the house down, Erica and Todd were sensational doing the Cha Cha. They later came back to do a Quick Step that made dancing look so easy because they were flawless! They are very popular and the kids love them! Monet and Loren then came out to entertain us with a medley of dances. These two twelve year olds recently won First Place in the Latin Junior category at the Ohio Star Ball/Fordney Foundation Youth Series. It is easy to see why, they were completely amazing and their timing with each other is impeccable! What a treat they are to see.

We all had fun when Principal Santos of Maple Elementary and Adira of Conejo Elementary treated us to a special performance of “YMCA.” It got everybody to dance and it was a lot of fun. Next, we heard from Mia Bulcke. Mia is a friend of Dance 4 Wellness and has taken classes with them in the past. She inspired us to pay attention to how our children feel after participating in a dance program and how important it is to give in a small way that achieves huge results to our children, by sponsoring a program like DWOLS.

We had a raffle giveaway with super prizes such as Fordney Foundation fleece jacket and dance shoe bags, dance lessons from Dance 4 Wellness and even an autobiography and DVD of Shirley Maclaine when she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Congrats to all winners! It was then time to give out medals to all our students who participated in our program compliments of the Fordney Foundation. After that, Maria gave dance lessons on the Cupid Shuffle, which is a line dance that is lots of fun.  There was dancing all the way to closing and it was a fun and memorable experience we all enjoyed.

Many people help to make this night special. We thank all of our students, their parents, friends and the teachers and principals who share our vision and value this moment in time. We thank people like Laird Wilson who help put together the platform so we may dance! Mr. Sandor “Alex” Havasi always does a great job bringing us pictures that let’s us have memories that live forever! There are so many people who help us like Esme Takahashi, David Chadida, Kees and Louisa Van Haaster. We couldn’t do it without you! And of course, the people who actually make the event happen, Maria, Erica and Todd. And to you Mrs. Marilyn Fordney, we thank you for your divine dream that allows people to experience the gift of dance!

Thought Of The Week:

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination – Albert Einstein


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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website https://slowmotiondancevideos.com/