I am sitting at my computer on a beautiful Monday morning as the words of Gregory are going through my mind, “pivot and promenade one, two, three, four” or “martini glass.” Gregory is Gregory Mishura and was my fabulous Fred Astaire dancing coach and partner for the 11th annual Dancing with the High Point Stars, presented by Communities in Schools. This year with limited attendance there was live streaming and online voting.
To set the mood I am listening to the music of the musical “A Chorus Line” and imagining myself in that chorus line! Well, I just kicked up my heels at DWTHPS, and next is the FA Showcase at the Sheraton at Koury Center. What’s next? I’ll tell you later.
I, like most of the other DWTHPS dancers, had never donned dance shoes before. When Catherine Niebauer of CIS called and asked me to dance, I automatically said yes. I had always attended DWTHPS but never, ever thought I would be dancing. I have always admired CIS and the work they do to keep kids in school and help them succeed in life. “It would be my pleasure,” I told her. That’s how it all began.
It was my dear friend, High Point’s dear friend, Bill Horney who brought CIS to High Point over 30 years ago. I remember when Horney, who died at the age of 101, would be the first to grace the dance floor at DWTHPS with his wife, Daphne.
I, like the other dancers, had no idea what was ahead of us when we agreed to dance, but we all were in “rhythm” in saying that it was a lot of fun, dancing is harder than it looks, and everything we did from the time involved, the dance lessons, costuming was so worth it to help the children of our community know that High Point cares about their future! Those other dancers were Michaux Crocker of the YMCA; Daniel Monkonjay Gray, known as Uncle Cheesecake; Connor Harris of High Point University (winner for best costume); Pam Hubay, owner of Plank Street Tavern/High Point Jewelers; Sue Kanoy, a community volunteer; Scott Newton of HopeCity; Sarah Stevenson of the city of High Point (winner of best performance) Frank Thomas, pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church (winner of Shooting Star award); and Martha Yarborough, community volunteer (winner of Shooting Star award).
I met my dance partner, Gregory, in November for my first lesson. Everyone was always so nice and welcoming every time I went, and on that, too, all of the dancers agreed. Gregory and I clicked right away. Gregory came to the United States from the Ukraine, so sometimes there was a language, well not necessarily a barrier, but maybe a discrepancy. I told him that I wanted to dance the tango. Then I said, “Gregory, I want to make the dance floor ‘sizzle.’ ” That was the case with the word “sizzle.” Gregory had an inquisitive look and said to me, “And what does this word ‘sizzle’ mean?” I told him. We both laughed. Our laughter continued throughout our lessons as I tried to learn my combination American-Argentinian tango to “La Cumparsita.”
One of the first decisions would be my dance costume. I actually thought I could reach into my closet. How wrong I was! Although FA has a selection of dresses, I decided to find one to buy. I brought in several pictures for Gregory to put his stamp of approval on, and finally the dress was decided. That wasn’t all. Next it was the shoes. Ladies dance shoes must have suede on the soles to slide, and I would need straps so they would not fly off mid-dance. Oh, what decisions. The mask, the nails (mine were black, white and rhinestones), jewelry and the hair!
I would have to wear my hair in an updo! When practicing the final spin when I am on the floor, my long hair got caught under Gregory’s shoe! Ouch! I didn’t lose any hair, but I did have a lump on my head, so an updo for me. I did have to laugh at that one.
Normally we would try to have two lessons a week. Then all of a sudden it was here. Saturday’s agenda would include hair and makeup done by my friend Paula Nooe Byerly (Chevalrie Salon) before arrival at the High Point Country Club at 3 p.m. for rehearsals for the dancers and the cameras. The emcees, Sarah Beth Davis (owner of Wynnie’s Children’s Boutique) and Timothy Peoples (senior minister at Emerywood Baptist Church), also were there. Catherine Niebauer did a fabulous job as the chair of the planning committee. My superhero award goes to Leigh Anne Kasias, who has been the event coordinator since DWTHPS’s beginning, and I don’t think she got into any of the photos, darn it! She is truly incredible. Plus thanks to our cheerleader, Tommy Walls, CIS executive director, who kept us up to date on the money we raised!
After two rehearsals it was almost showtime and we got into our costumes. I was third on the roster. The dancers in costume were able to sit among the few guests. It was calming to be among friends. I spotted the judges, who were Mr. “About Town” Jim Morgan, who was also a Quickstep Signature Sponsor, Brandon Blair (B & H Heating and Cooling), another Quickstep Signature Sponsor, and Terri Walker, a former DWTHPS dancer and, with her husband, Mickey, a Salsa Sponsor. Terri also served as the dancer coordinator, but even more, she and Sasha did an absolutely stunning (and sexy) dance to “Apologize.”
My time had come. The spotlight was on. Gregory took my hand, and we swept our way across the floor, including the martini glass. When it was over all I could do was hug Gregory in gratitude. I even forgot to bow to the judges! But then, the night was about raising money for CIS. In the end, DWTHPS broke every record, raising over $150,000!
Oh, now back to the martini glass! When Gregory says to me, “martini glass,” I arch gracefully backward, knees slightly bent, forming the shape of a martini glass.
Here is a toast to you, High Point!