When speaking to young people, I like to relieve some of their college or career-choice angst by using phrases like “listen to life,” “go where life leads you,” or “kismet.”
At a recent Friends of Dreamland (FOD) planning meeting for their annual fundraiser, Dancing Into Dreamland, FOD had their “kismet” moment.
In recognition of it being the 10th year, the board decided to call it the “Tournament of Champions” and invite a mixture of past First Place and People’s Choice award winners to compete.
In the process of reaching out to past participants, we heard 2 wonderful testimonies.
Empowering and Uplifting Dancers
A heartwarming story came to light when we contacted the 2016 First Place winners, Rick and Sarah Pinedo. After their sultry tango won at Dancing Into Dreamland, their dance life soared to new levels, with multiple job offerings. Rick said, “Winning Dancing into Dreamland has ‘put us on the map’…so to speak. Since that time, we’ve been invited to dance and perform with The Rep, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Art Center, the Crystal Ballroom in Hot Springs and we even appeared on KATV’s Good Afternoon Arkansas! I actually taught Elicia Dover, the show’s on-air host, how to Waltz…live on TV! Lastly, I was asked to teach the Argentine Tango at the Ballroom, Latin and Swing Club in Little Rock and then was asked to become one of their DJs.” He went on to say, “Winning Dancing into Dreamland opened many doors for us, and we’re very grateful for that.”
Another story came from professional dancer Amy Bramlett-Turner who, after suffering a foot injury, returned to her hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas to teach. There she shared her passion for dance with students of all levels at Hot Springs Middle and High Schools. In 2015, she brought her troupe of first-year dance students to perform at Dancing Into Dreamland’s November competition. They won the People’s Choice award which she said was a life changing moment. It validated her decision to move home and opened doors. Amy said, “When we came back from performing [at Dreamland], my administration was like, ‘Okay. You can have a dance… like, a little… dance company.’” She added that once the dance company was formed, she was able to raise over $45,000 for her “winning” troupe. Her little dance company is now a big one and many of those past students are now in college on dance scholarships.
The Future of Dancing Into Dreamland
A few years back, the FOD Board intended to make Dancing Into Dreamland’s 10th year the last one. They thought they might migrate towards an easier fundraiser, one that doesn’t require so much preparations: auditions, dress rehearsals, performance lighting and audio.
But that was before “kismet.” Upon hearing that Dancing Into Dreamland is empowering people’s lives, building a community, and helping to fulfill its mission of “bringing back the music, the history and the party” of Dreamland Ballroom, the FOD Board has chosen to “Listen to Life.” Currently there is no set end date for this outrageously fun, exciting, and heartwarming celebration of two great things: Dreamland Ballroom and dancers.