If I could have a really special gift for a special birthday I decided that it would be Simon Ward for my instructor for ‘The Spring Workshop’. Of course I reckoned it would be almost impossible to get him. But shoot for the stars I did and lo and behold Simon’s answer was a resounding “Yes”!! How amazing was that? So who would I have with him; what about young Maddison Glover, she looks like she is on her way to stardom as well so it would be a good idea to book her now if possible. Another “Yes”!! Two years later and there they both were settling into my house!
Simon has been a favourite of mine from when I first saw him at Windy City many years ago. I thought he was like a breath of fresh air. At one point during the event I went into the “funky” ballroom and there was Simon in the corner with 6 or 7 “older” ladies having a ball as they discoed to whatever was being played! He didn’t feel any need to join the “cool” kids on the dance floor, he was having way too much fun where he was!!
Simon is a huge star in our line dance community now but he hasn’t changed a bit. Adjectives to describe him … genuine, natural, hilarious, perceptive, kind, thoughtful, energetic, dynamic, considerate, in fact a “Larger Than Life” personality … plus he is an enormously talented dancer, choreographer and instructor at the top of his craft.
Meanwhile all those years ago Maddison was a cute little kid learning to kick-ball-change from her Dad (who is a full time line dance instructor) and from one of his best students, Simon. The years went by and this cute kid added lots more to her line dance repertoire! Hence my thinking that it might be worthwhile having her here in Toronto. And boy it sure was! What a BIG talent this young woman now is; a multi-award winner, in demand for workshops all over the world, her choreography at the top of the charts and an awe inspiring dancer.
I didn’t know what to expect when I met young Maddy. What I did know was that she seemed to be loved by people I respect, Simon, Jo Thompson Szymanski and Rachel McEnaney, and I found out why. No ego for Maddy. What you see is what you get. A truly delightful young woman who is enthusiastic, warm, sensitive, and gives her all to ensure that every dancer gets the best she can give them.
Their lives look glamorous but both Simon and Maddy worked the whole time they were here. Not only working on the event dance with me, but choreographing and then practising a performance for the Workshop, going over what they were going to teach and then preparing for upcoming workshops and answering non-stop emails and messages. This all takes a lot of time, plus energy and focus, and it was exhausting just watching them. There is lots going on behind the scenes other than what we the dancers see at the workshops. Thankfully they both say they love their jobs.
On to ‘The Spring Workshop’ that might not have happened if not for the support of my friends. Health issues at the beginning of the year led me to consider cancelling the event but I was dissuaded and I am so relieved and glad I was. It was the most wonderful event, way beyond even my wildest expectations. Tammy Wyatt was the most persuasive about continuing on with the workshop and she did an amazing job, for the first time ever I was a guest at my own workshop exactly as she told me I was going to be!! “Just direct any questions to me” she said. And I did, although I must say I felt a bit guilty about it but sent them off to Tammy regardless! Cynthia Skublak, my support as ever from day one, worked tirelessly.
There were friends working in the kitchen, decorations being put up early in the morning, the tables being set out, registration desk looked after, the raffles looked after, picking up the cakes, in fact anything that needed to be done there were friends taking on the responsibility. I can’t say how fortunate I felt, it was an overwhelming feeling to know there were so many so willing to help. My heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you, I have tears in my eyes even as I write this. I reckon having dear friends like mine is far better than medication for sure. Thank you also to everyone who offered to help at the workshop, so many willing hands.
The energy on Saturday hit the roof. The dynamism that Simon and Maddy brought to their teaching inspired us all, amazing dances …. Lonely Lovers, Hypnotized Cha, Simply The Best, Tai-Want Love, Get Wild and the event dance Never Growing Up. Onward to the Evening Dance when the floor was full all night, often with Simon and Maddy leading the floor. I don’t know how they did it, they seemed to have an endless fount of energy! It was truly inspiring watching them. My favourite was ‘Yeeee Haaaa’ taking me back to when I first saw Simon, what a thrill to dance it beside him at my own workshop in my home town.
There were breaks during the evening, a highlight being an amazing performance by Simon and Maddy. Everyone was transfixed watching them, totally awestruck. There was a standing ovation at the end.
For me, I was totally unprepared for the outpouring of affection that I received. Kind words by Simon, Chris’ poem and then Tammy’s poem that seemed to use every single title of my dances and took me tearfully down memory lane. I have so much to thank Tammy for. I would not have achieved all that I have been fortunate enough to without her support and encouragement from when I first started dancing.
Then amazing and perfect garden gifts from the Tuesday class led by Donna, Fred and Eddie. They know my second love is gardening. What a great team Fred, Eddie and I have made all these years, they are wonderful friends. Flowers, gifts and cards, thank you so much to everyone for your thoughtfulness. It was a rough beginning to the year but that time completely vanished from my mind on Saturday.
DJ Adam finally sent everyone home at 11:45! I should add here what a fantastic job Adam did on only his second LD Gig. Simon and Maddy both reckoned he is one of the best DJs they have worked with.
Many thanks to the Event Directors who donated complimentary passes to their events; to Geri for her beautiful glass bird bath and to everyone who donated items for Dale’s gift baskets which as always looked stunning. Much appreciation to Dale whose efforts over the years have resulted in over $10,000 going to various charities. Thanks to the generous dancers the amount raised at The Spring Workshop 2019, which will be shared between the Hospital for Sick Children and the LDF, was $850.
There was a mini-Raffle for Paddington Bear whom I am delighted to report has gone to a loving home! The amount raised was $300 and it will go to the PSDA, The Platelet Support Disorder Association.
My family joined us during the afternoon workshop. My little granddaughters, Ella and Una, beamed from ear to ear the whole time! Simon and Maddy and the dancers most definitely impressed them; I reckon they will be joining us on the dance floor before too long!!
Thanks to everyone who joined us at the ‘Lunch With The Stars’ on the Friday. There were over 70 of us! It was a lot of fun particularly with Simon as the raffle caller! I think he might have a second career there!
Sunday we headed down to Niagara On The Lake, and then the Falls. Suffice to say what happens in Niagara stays there!!!!! But what fun we had!
All good times have to come to an end however and off to the airport I went with Simon and Maddy Monday afternoon. I came home to an empty and quiet house. Even Michael remarked on how silent the house felt. The memories will remain though and my mind is full of wonderful images and moments from the weekend.
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who has helped, supported and encouraged me on my line dance journey. Many of you were there at the workshop and everywhere I looked I saw familiar and smiling faces. I will still look forward to seeing you on the dance floor, sharing laughter and making more memories.
PS I didn’t get a chance to take many photos but there are loads on the facebook page plus videos so do check them out.