Diary of a Dan-cer: Homestretch

Wow! It’s almost here.


The Sassy Six have been preparing since early October. We have worked very hard and are set to give you a great show next Saturday night, Dec. 8 at Moseley’s.

While we are much improved dancers since the beginning of this journey, right now, the realization that this is actually going to happen is sinking in.

In the past week, I personally have had two dreams/ nightmares. I kid you not. The first

really freaked me out. It was vivid. I pictured myself on the dance floor at Moseley’s. I was in costume, with my partner. I scanned the crowd and saw a lot of familiar faces. The scene was real. Bobby Coughlin, emcee of DWTDS, looking dapper, had the microphone in hand and introduced my partner and I. We watched the video introduction, as clear as day.

Then…. The music began.

I grabbed my dancer’s hands and my mind went completely and totally blank.

I had forgotten my routine.

A routine I have rehearsed hundreds of times…

I pictured that we simply locked hands and twirled each other around for two minutes and fifteen seconds, until the music mercifully stopped. It was awful. You guys booed me. Shame on you! I’m glad that no bottles were thrown. Thanks for that, I guess.

Another Star, we’ll call him Andrew P. to protect his identity, has also had some anxiety- induced dreams. Andrew dreams that he will be announced and set to go, and unfortunately will throw up all over himself and the dance floor. This would be a disappointing series of events for any Stars set to follow him.

My second nightmare happened two nights later. This time, the scene was the same…I was in costume on the dance floor at Moseley’s with my partner. I scanned the crowd and saw all those familiar faces. Bobby Coughlin did his intro. Except this time, we performed our routine flawlessly.

We were awesome! I was so proud of it.

I thought we had won. I flash forwarded to the end. The votes have been tallied and all of the dollars counted. All of the dancing pairs are on the dance floor and the winners are being announced.

The popular vote goes to the Star who has raised the most money for Dedham Educational Partnership. The night of the event, every dollar counts as one vote. For the past few years, the Stars have gotten a headstart on “vote collecting” by holding fundraising events in the weeks leading up to the show.

The night of the show, for the popular vote, the top three finishers are announced, 3rd, 2nd and 1st. In my dream, three winners were announced. None of the announced winners were ANY of the Sassy Six, just random names. The subconscious mind is a very strange thing.

It gets worse.

After the Popular Vote, they announce the Technical Champions, the pair who the judges have voted to be the best performers of the night. In my dream, Bobby Coughlin announced the Technical Champion….

“And our Winner is….Dan Maher!”

Only he didn’t say Dan Maher. I walk out with my partner having thought we had won. Dimitria Sullivan rushes to grab me because, in my dream, Bobby Coughlin did not actually say “Dan Maher”, he said something like “Dan Morril, Dan Marin….”, another random name.

So, just like the random three folks who apparently won the popular vote, there was a random dude, who had a name similar to my own, who, without dancing, apparently won the technical vote. I walked out to the center of the dance floor, only to slink away in embarrassment. I’m sure this is all totally normal, right?

So, in addition to the physical demands we have all endured, I am now learning that there are some mental demands as well. The performance anxiety, unfortunately, is part of the deal. Like it or not, we will all be performing in front of 1000 people next Saturday at Moseley’s.

It will be the first time any of us have performed in this fashion in front of this many people. Because we have never done it before, it is not possible for anyone to be completely comfortable.

As the lessons have passed, a few things have become clear to me. First, it is not ok to chest bump your female dance partner as though you scored a touchdown. A Dance Studio is not a Ballfield. She’s little and you will knock her down.

Secondly, this whole thing has been a grooming process. My dance partner, Rachel Palmieri, is exceptional at what she does. She is an awesome dancer and choreographer. With me, she had a very difficult task. I had no rhythm and no dance ability to speak of at the start of this. I was out of shape and had a long way to go.

It’s like she had to assume the role of Prince William, and I was her Kate Middleton. She had several weeks to make me a presentable princess for the Royals. I hope, for her sake and mine, that I have improved enough to perform a great routine and put on a great show.

As you all know by now, Dancing With the Dedham Stars is a huge fundraiser for the Dedham Educational Partnership. Every dollar donated contributes to Dedham schools and Dedham students. I urge you to donate! The night of the event, if you are having fun…if you think we have danced well…if you have been entertained…..Please donate! Dig in and donate an extra $10 or $20!

Remember, there has been A LOT of work that has gone into this event, by Dimitria and the DEP committee, by the group dancers, by the professionals at Fred Astaire Dance studios and by the Stars themselves.


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