Written by Erin Santos, ISF Executive Director & President
Current status… not in last place. I’m in second to last place. Thanks to some sponsorship funds from Barings, DHG and Fifth Third Bank and some serious votes coming in from my friends at Levine – I have slowly moved to almost $47,000. I’m a far cry from these 2 gentlemen who are well over $200,000. (Which is honestly incredible.) But I find myself being a little less depressed with my current number. I have lots of people reaching out to me, asking how they can help. Sadly, my answer is only to vote – because that’s all that moves my needle. So, ask your friends, ask your friends who own businesses, or anyone really! Every single vote counts.
I also have 10 tickets still on hold, but I lose them to the general public TOMORROW on February 14th. So, all of you last minute people who want to come (and those ticket dollars count as votes), here are the instructions on how to get them.
Instructions for how to purchase from the held back tickets
1. Please visit the website here and make a donation of at least $350 to equal one Gold ticket, $700 for 2 Gold tickets, etc. Once the transaction is received it will be recoded from donation to tickets.
2. Within the guest names field please indicate “Gold Ticket Purchase” and the names of the guests using the tickets.
Day? I have lost count… so now I will just ramble.
I love my drive up to DWTS rehearsal because I take the 30 minutes to blare the music in my car and walk through all the steps in my head. Not to give anything away on my actual performance but today I’m playing the song “Baby Got Back” so loud my windows are shaking. For those of you who know me, you know this was once my go to Karaoke song. I absolutely HATE Karaoke and had such a horrible performance of this song maybe 8 years ago that I swore it off forever. But this song has still been in heavy rotation in my house for years because I think it’s absolutely hilarious. Now, if you ever look in my house windows – what you will find is probably me in the kitchen dancing to the most ridiculous songs. My kids and I have always had no shame in busting out moves just about anywhere. I dance all the time in the house, the car, the shower – everywhere. And I’m raising kids that do the same. My son is kind of an awesome dancer too and will break out today’s hottest moves on the sidelines of the football field, at a nice restaurant – anywhere. Kind of like his mom. Sophia has some moves too and we are constantly trying to get her to quit the Dab. I find that her moves tend to be a little too sexy for her age too. Yikes. I’m probably to blame for this.
But this Sir Mix a Lot song brings me back to my other child. Bless her heart. Isabella was quite possibly the WORST dancer of all time. This girl had a beat in her head that was nothing like what was actually playing. However, she didn’t give a damn. This bald child in a dress would dance and dance, all while carrying a tune that was so off key that it was difficult to be around. But one thing is for sure – dancing made her so happy. We would have garage parties with our neighbors, blaring the most child inappropriate songs over the speaker with bottles of wine around us. Occasionally one of us would get up and bust a move, but she would always trump us with her horrible white girl moves. We would cheer her on and giggle under our breathe and she ate it all up. It makes me chuckle just thinking about it. So, while you may think a 42-year-old Mom from the burbs of Charlotte, dancing on stage to Baby Got Back is weird. Just know all these songs have meanings and memories of a little 7-year-old girl that knew every word (even though she shouldn’t) and danced her little heart out beside me in the kitchen as the songs played through my house. I think she would have loved me being up there on stage and really make a total ass of myself. But she would also sit in her seat and find a beat with her foot on the ground and probably laugh knowing these are all the songs we would dance to in the kitchen as I made dinner too.
Now on to the dancing… or at least what kind of looks like dancing.
It’s time to start piecing this routine together. I can do each little 30 second part but now Juwan is making me add a song or two together. Wait one minute of straight dancing? After a full 60 seconds I find that I’m winded. Wait add another 30 second piece? After 90 seconds of this routine, my heart is beating out of my chest and I collapse to the floor at the end of each round. How do these dancers to do this? Juwan tells me to kick my cardio up a gear – which I take in stride. My birthday was February 2nd and I can honestly say that my cardio has been on a sliding scale the past week as my alcohol consumption has increased. I mean you only turn 42, once right? Ok ok… back to Orange Theory.
Here we go on putting the entire routine together. Luckily Juwan cuts me a break and tell me that we will just walk the routine a couple of times in its entirety until my body just goes into muscle memory so I don’t get scared. I find that this is becoming easier. I don’t have to think about the steps, my body is just doing it. I’m doing so well that we start practicing with the music. Okay, now I’m winded but it’s actually happening. Great. Now instead of skipping all the stunts, we are actually going to do them too. Holy crap. Each time we go through the 3 ½ minutes – I’m getting better. Sure, there are mistakes, but Juwan just yells – KEEP GOING! I just keep going, each round has less and less mistakes. Hmmm…. This is actually coming together. Still winded.
Thankfully, the most awesome stylist in town Whitley Hamlin (Queen City Style), has agreed to help style me for the gala. I love this because sometimes it can be hard for me to crank up the sophistication. Her peeps at Neiman Marcus have stepped up to help and we start chatting about possibilities. The fact that I don’t have to think about this piece is really saving me. Juwan and I have been chatting about performance outfits for a while and have been coming up empty so taking this off my plate helps. I decided to sit down at my computer and start ordering stuff online. Let’s pray when it arrives, something speaks to us. It’s also an added difficulty when you and your partner are trying to match. Did I mention that I’m a 5’5 mom and he is like an 8-foot-tall ballet dancer? Yeah…
It’s Saturday night and we have a birthday dinner organized with some friends uptown. Juwan has a performance that night but has assured me that he and his fella will meet us out after. I drag my crowd to Dandelion Market where we are WAAAAY too old to be. I care zero. I want to dance like I’m 22 and I’m not leaving until they turn on the lights. Juwan shows up around 11 with his man and I’m so happy I can barely stand it. We dance and dance and dance like no one is watching until my boyfriend (who dances ZERO), finally pulls me out my arm a little after 1. I haven’t had a night like this in so long and I loved every minute of it. Now, while we weren’t necessarily practicing our routine, this night of dancing took me to another level of being comfortable with Juwan. It’s hard to dance in front of someone – it took a while for me to loosen up with him. But we are becoming little dance partners – I may even say he is my favorite dance partner ever. And this is exactly where I wanted to be with him at this point.
I got the routine down. Now it just needs flare. It’s one thing to have the steps but it’s another to dance the steps as good as Juwan does it. We may have spent 20 minutes having him walk me through how to get my ass to “twerk”. I still don’t have it. I may have googled it when I got home that night and worked on it in my kitchen. I’m less winded, it starting to not look like a mom from the suburbs. I’m doing moves and Juwan is saying, “YES! YES! That’s it!”. Confidence is building. We are laughing, it’s working and I’m loving it.. minus the twerk.
Now I know rehearsing in an empty studio is one thing, on stage is another. Next week he stops allowing me to watch myself in the mirror and will start picking at every little thing. He’s going to eat my “twerk” alive. I will continue to practice in my kitchen. Also, my kids are starting to learn my routine. Grant may have it better than I do. Where is Isabella when I need her???
More performance outfits arrive. One is baller – and I think we may have found it. Now time to accessorize. How is this performance just 2 weeks away.
And vote already. I’m twerking and that’s got to be worth something right?
Event site: gala.charlotteballet.org