Councilman Howard Levine: What I did on my summer vacation
September 9, 2014
Well, school is back in session and I finished up my vacation with one last hurrah. Saturday night was Dancing With Our Stars, a fundraising effort by the Center for the Arts at the Veterans Building in Grass Valley.
I was a dancer, along with 21 others of our community who have put a whole summer into the program.
I was an audience member last year at the inaugural Dancing With Our Stars event, and watched and enjoyed myself with all of our friends. After the event, I thought it looked like fun and was kind of toying with the idea of doing it the following year. In February, my friend Lisa said she would help me if I signed up and I said fine. I had no idea what I was in for.
In April, we were invited to the Center for the Arts and met our dance partners. We were told what our minimum goal was for fundraising, as well. That seemed fine, and I know I wanted to do better because the Center needs a number of upgrades and they are not inexpensive, besides the Center of the Arts is a great place. I was happy to meet my partner, Kate Haight, and we talked, took some pictures — and said we were busy until school was over in June and summer was here.
“It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world, and at peace with myself ...”
In retrospect, I should have started fundraising but I procrastinate.
In June, Kate was available and she gave me her concept of what we should do — styles, music, rehearsal schedule. We started out dancing about three days a week and it got to be a lot of hard work and fun. Working with Kate proved to be great. She is the same age as my kids, can sing, dance, act and teaches. We compared notes and Kate and my son, Michael, did ballet as kids at the same time at the same school.
Well, the summer progressed and we started raising money for the Center and that picked up nicely, not enough to win that award, but we did well. And, given my skills, we changed choreography. Because I hurt my knee, we took out this kind of jump that was a disaster for me. We needed a week off for various reasons — I needed recovery!
Kate put up with a lot as I learned about her — saw her in Twelfth Night (which was great) — listened and we planned. We were becoming great friends — I think friends forever — which I like. I was excited because she was going to be singing at the North Star House and I was going to be there for their first event — a great time again. There are plays coming up at Off Broad Street and we plan to go and be overwhelmed again. We have become very supportive, because we became partners. Our dancing and routine kept getting better and we were just having fun dancing. Our music was coming together because of George Jane. Our Mandela slideshow was the work of Bob Richardson. It was all working.
August arrived and we went into rehearsal every day. Sweat, knee pain, shoe changes, instructor re-directives.
"One more time!"
Sweat dripping off our brows, foreheads, chests.
"One more time!" – "Ah (expletive deleted) screwed-up".
All the dancers came closer and began wishing each other success, praising the work, wishing it over, wishing to keep going. There were beautiful salutes via emails and on Facebook. We were all in it together. We were one team. The Center Team.
But, we know when it is over, it is really just the beginning. A beginning of great friendships, opportunities and self-awareness. Kate and I have a plan for her to do a CD that will make all of us happy because of her beautiful voice. I am doing an etching to thank our supporters (for which there were scores). And then there is next summer — maybe dance lessons, maybe just sweat, maybe … who knows. But there will be something, and there are always memories of the great summer we have had this year.
Thanks everybody. We are one with the music and dance. And thanks Kate, Peggy, Mara, Emma, The Center, Johnny Clegg and Nelson Mandela, who once said, "It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world, and at peace with myself …"
Howard Levine is a member of the Grass Valley City Council.