After a long, bitterly cold winter that never seemed to end, I was a little anxious that snow would still be lurking around for The Spring Workshop! But it decided to vacate the premises when Craig Bennett and Daniel Whittaker arrived in TO!! Craig was our guest 5 years ago but it was Daniel’s first time stepping foot in Canada. So for the first day it was Craig and me as tour guides taking Daniel up the CN Tower where he bravely stepped onto the glass ceiling! This was followed by lunch in China Town and a brief tour of the city before we met up with Fred and Eddie Buckley and danced the Event Dance ‘Who We Are’ together for the first time.
Saturday was a bright sunny day which was a good omen as we headed to the Event Hall ready to greet a full house of dancers excited to see Craig again and to meet Daniel for the first time. Fred, Eddie and I are so fortunate in the support we have in the line dance community in Ontario some dancers driving five hours to come. This time around we also had dancers from Quebec and Michigan. The afternoon session is a mix of different level dances taught and some open dancing in between teaches to let the mind relax a bit! Daniel taught ‘Twinkle Waltz’ (Beg), ‘Sweet Like Candy’ (Improver), ‘Tarzan’ (Int) and ‘Waltz in Tacoma’ (Int+). The dances were well received and there was something there for everyone. Daniel’s energy and enthusiasm was catching and his dry wit had the dancers giggling! Craig ably taught ‘Bet My Life’ (Beg+), ‘My Biscuit’ (Int) and ‘Adios’ (Int), all well received and the dancers thoroughly enjoyed Craig’s teaching especially the “Oooh, Oooh, Aaah, Aaah” …. You had to be there!! Between the two of them (it was rather like a comedy tag team performing!) they taught the event dance ‘Who We Are’ (Int).
A meal break and back for the Evening Dance. The play list, compiled of requests and classics, had been up on Fred and my websites since January with an additional few up and coming “hot” dances added each month. It gave the dancers an opportunity to review dances ahead of time and quite a few of the instructors reviewed the dances in class as well. Many thanks to the instructors who agreed to lead dances, it really helped to have someone who knew a dance well at the front. From the responses we received after the event the play list was a resounding success and certainly the floor was packed literally all evening. Craig and Daniel must have been exhausted; they were on the dance floor most of the time as there had been requests for so many of their dances, some going back quite a number of years. During the evening we also reviewed the dances taught earlier and this was indicated on the play list as well as a presentation to our guests. Dancers could then plan around any quick breaks they might need to make!! We will most definitely continue with this format for 2016.
One dancer said that her favourite moment of the night was dancing an oldie, “The Way You Look’, beside Craig with him singing at the same time! It will be a bitter sweet memory as ours was Craig’s last international teaching event. Craig received a major promotion at work and is now going to focus on his career. The dancers were very sad at the news but happy for Craig as well and honoured that he chose to come to our event for his “farewell”.
We also did some fund-raising with a Raffle for The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children which raised $333. Many thanks to Valarie Keller for donating a pass to ‘Dancin’ For Miracles’ as one of the prizes. As well we raised $430 for the Line Dance Foundation through the sale of flashing laces, step sheet books, and bracelets made by Cynthia Skublak (which accounted for $225 of the total amount).
Sunday was the day for Emily Woo’s party and as always the energy was high and enthusiasm even higher!! Emily and her Raindrops team really know how to throw a party and the dancers were delighted to meet the "Honoured" Guests.. Again … Craig and Daniel, in between eating the enormous feast, were on the floor most of the evening leading their own dances, or at least in some cases trying to remember them!! Both were very impressed with the number of their dances known in our LD community. I enjoyed teaching my beginner 'Stories We Can Tell' to smiling dancers.
Despite a late night and sore feet, on Monday we were all up early to head down to Niagara Falls. We approached via one of my favourite little towns, Niagara On The Lake, and made our way along the Niagara River stopping for a wine tasting and the requisite ice wine which had both guys licking their lips with pleasure! Photos by the Falls, coffee and a donut at Tim Horton’s then back to TO and the airport to drop the guys off.
Our house seemed so quiet when we got home, even my husband Michael remarked on it. He had been equally entertained by our guests and enjoyed their company as much as I did. They kept us laughing and were very thoughtful at the same time. No big egos with these two extremely talented young men. Hopefully we will see Daniel here again and meanwhile we will most definitely continue to dance his dances which race to the top of the charts as soon as they appear. We wish Craig every success in his career but we will keep our fingers crossed behind our backs that maybe one day he will re-join us on our dance floors again, he will be missed.
Let me add here our special thanks to our friends who willingly help with the myriad of jobs involved in running an event like this … setting the tables, putting up decorations, organizing the kitchen, check-in at the front desk, down to finally gathering everything together at the end of the evening. We couldn’t do it without them for sure.
I know that Fred and Eddie will agree that we also couldn’t do it without the dancers who come with a smile and a hug and it feels like friends coming to celebrate at a party with us. We are so fortunate in you all, our heartfelt thanks for your continued support.