I’d say the world was changed Saturday night – or at least the worlds of the 3,100 people who were in the audience. This picture pretty much sums up our experience:
Yep, that’s our Katie, Melissa and Hayley with Nigel Lythgoe, who called our dancers “angels” and was the man who told me I’m the only woman who’s ever made him cry. Nigel, who is the face of dance in America, Nigel who is the creator of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance – yep, that guy.
And here they are with So You Think You Can Dance All-Star Neal, and below, they are with our good friend Twitch, and his fiance, SYTYCD alum Allison!
Right after the show ended, complete with our kids taking a final bow with the entire cast and dancing to the closing of the curtain, we met up in the lobby – some of us headed to the Black Tie Ball, some of us headed back to the hotel. I’ve never seen so many happy faces in my life!
Of course, we didn’t take nearly enough pictures – and photos and videos are still being uploaded this morning, which will be shared, but I had to post this blog to tell you about the two highlights of the night for me.
We were the finale of Act I. When the kids were backstage and we were in the audience, enjoying a fantastic show in our VIP seats!!, everyone was doing great until…the kids were called backstage to take their places. When they got in the wings, Anna G began to get scared, which turned into outright panic. “I scared,” she told Hayley and Melissa.
Hayley and Melissa – along with the Element dancers – tried to convince her there was nothing to be scared of. “All these people out here are your fans,” someone told her. “How many?,” she asked. “About 3,000,” someone answered. “I scared,” she said again, as she began to back away from the group.
Hayley and Melissa tried to stay calm but they knew if they couldn’t talk Anna out of this fear, she would not take the stage. What could they say or do to make her comfortable, to give her the confidence she needed?
Nothing, it turns out. What she needed was for her best friend, Anna C, to walk up to her. Anna C put her arm around Anna G and said, “G, we got this.” Anna G took a deep breath, help up a peace sign and made her “stank face” and everyone knew she was ready to go! The right words of encouragement from her best friend and teammate and…she put on her game face, took the stage and rocked it out. Now that’s what it means to be a friend, to be a teammate and to put your fears aside and go for your dreams!
The standing ovation was started by Jane Lynch (of GLEE) and Christina Applegate, who were seated on the front row. When they stood up, the rest of the 3,100 people weren’t far behind – within seconds the entire theatre was on their feet with a sustained and resounding ovation. Nigel and Adam walked on stage after letting the ovation last a few minutes, which was our kids’ cue to exit the stage. But Nigel told them to stay put – they remained on stage with Adam and Nigel while the men asked for donations to Dizzy Feet’s community fund, which was to be collected during intermission. For a good 5 minutes, our dancers stood on that stage, holding hands and grinning from ear to ear, while Nigel and Adam talked about them and about Dizzy Feet’s Community Program. Then, Nigel took Anna C’s hand and skipped offstage with them, while Adam held hands with the kid on the opposite end.
My second favorite moment of the night was at the Ball. After the dinner and live auction, the stars of SYTYCD and Dancing with the Stars took the dance floor for a dance battle, with the attendees circled around watching the most dazzling display of talent we had ever seen. We were lucky enough to be in the front row of onlookers, with Anna G grooving to the music, clapping and watching with a huge smile on her face. Christopher Scott – one of the hottest choreographers around right now, and quite a cutie to book – spotted Anna G. I saw him make eye contact with her and thought – oh no he isn’t – when he approached her, brought her onto the dance floor and amidst the cheers of the crowd, Anna G did her thing! She twerked, and pumped and danced her heart out. Christopher was amazed and stood back to let Anna G shine in all her glory! Once that was done, Christopher and Twitch engaged in a fantastic battle and wouldn’t you know it…Twitch broke away from Christopher Scott and also pulled Anna out center stage of the dance floor. She was absolutely the belle of the ball!
After the dance battled ended, we took over the dance floor and danced every song until the DJ threw us out! We were the last to leave but Anna wasn’t ready…she wanted to dance some more!!! The walk back to the hotel was a jubilant celebration – the kids from Project UP and Element did it…they changed the world Saturday night.
On a personal note, my daughter, Emma, was also brought into the dance battle by Cyrus, of Season 9, and again by Mark Ballas of Dancing with the Stars. Austin asked, “Why did those guys ask Emma to dance? You think they could just tell she had the moves?” I think it’s because she looked gorgeous and because she’s a helluva dancer – and I guess they could just tell that!
As more photos and videos are uploaded today, I will blog again. But my words will be inadequate to explain how incredible the night way, how the audience embraced our piece, how impressed the most impressive people in the entertainment industry were and how it all seems like the greatest dream ever in my life. I never thought, 6 years ago when we started our little program, that we would impact hundreds of people, create an entire community of families, volunteers and people with special needs and that they would give meaning to Alan and my life in ways we cannot even describe. Sometimes, when you dream big, your dreams really do come true!