Dancing With the Stars

Tallgrass Creek dancers strut their stuff in lively competition

Created date

April 30th, 2020
Bonnie and Pat Whalen light up the dance floor with their swing dance during Tallgrass Creek’s Dancing with the Stars competition held this February.

Bonnie and Pat Whalen light up the dance floor with their swing dance during Tallgrass Creek’s Dancing with the Stars competition held this February. 

There were waltzes, disco moves, country-western two-stepping, and more when Tallgrass Creek high steppers performed in the community’s standing-room-only Dancing With the Stars competition on February 23, 2020. 

“The TV show [Dancing With the Stars] has nothing on us,” laughs Jan Magee, resident life manager. “We do a lot of fun events here, but this one was an absolute blast.”

The competition was hosted by resident life as a fundraiser for the Student Scholars Fund, which assists students working at Tallgrass Creek with college tuition expenses. About 200 people attended the sold-out event, which raised about $11,000 and included both residents and staff members dancing for the coveted first prize trophy.    

“This evening was definitely a ‘fun-raiser’,” says Magee. “It all started with just a casual conversation and everyone jumped on board. The response has been overwhelming.”

Fancy footwork

Tallgrass Creek dancers and audience members kicked off the festive evening in the Blue Sky Restaurant, where they enjoyed beverages and snacks. Then everyone settled in to watch 13 enthusiastic couples twirl and jive around the spacious restaurant’s temporarily-installed dance floor.

Special guests were high school students Glenne Harvell and Gavin DeYoung-Daniels, both dancers at nearby Crescendo Conservatory. The two young performers have danced since they were children and are headed for impressive careers in dance after graduation. They danced a classic ballet for show attendees and also performed individual solos. 

Emcees Magee and Rod Zeigler, also from resident life, kept the pace lively as they introduced and chatted briefly with dancers. Zeigler arranged each couple’s music, which ranged from ‘70s hit “Stayin’ Alive” to Sinatra’s “My Funny Valentine” to Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.” 

Among the competitors were residents Susan Chang and Bill Converse, who sparkled in evening wear and performed an elegant tango around the dance floor. 

“We started practicing before Christmas,” says Bill. “Susan is a wonderful dancer, so she led the way.”

Resident George Lund and Sales Counselor Elaine Bahr also paired up for the competition, dancing to the ‘40s classic “You Make Me Feel So Young.” 

“I came in before work to practice several times but was still a bit nervous about dancing,” Bahr says. “George is a natural though which helped a lot.” 

Swing dancers Bonnie and Pat Whalen lit up the floor as they danced to Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame.” The Whalens are regulars on the dance floor during Tallgrass Creek’s DJ-inspired happy hour on Wednesday afternoons in the Sunflower Bistro. The two actually met in a ballroom dancing class.   

“Dancing has always been part of my life and Pat enjoys it, too,” says Bonnie. “We’d gotten away from it, but all the dancing opportunities at Tallgrass have gotten us back into it. We’re dancing again and loving it.”

Drumroll for the winner

Audience members used ballots to keep track of dancers throughout the competition and were encouraged to vote for their favorite couples. The entire production aired several times for the next two weeks on the community’s television station so those not attending could also vote via a special telephone number.

“Each vote is $1.00, a call which also goes toward the scholarship fund,” says Magee. “The winners will be awarded our version of the Mirror Ball Trophy, just like winners of TV’s Dancing With the Stars.”  

After much dancing, voting, and lots of neighborly fun, Tallgrass Creek’s Fitness Coordinator Camin Bell twirled her way to first place with partner Services Manager Buck Heath, for their dramatic dance to “My Funny Valentine.”

Marilyn and John Mills came in second with their beautiful waltz to “May I Have This Dance” and third place honors went to resident Judy Geer and staff member Nathan Monsees who waltzed to “Stand by Me.” 

New neighbors’ first dance

Ruth Hellstern moved to Tallgrass Creek only two months before the competition and danced the evening’s first dance with new neighbor Frank Weyforth. Her first impression of Tallgrass Creek? 

“This place is fun,” says Ruth. “Everyone gets into the spirit of whatever is happening—and there seems to be a lot.”