Step one, two, three, four and step one, two, three, four.
Side chasse, replace, left foot side, three, left foot side two, three.
"Think, Michelle, small steps, shuffle, keep legs straight, hardly move the hips and try to look sexy - it is, after all, Latin dancing."
I'm concentrating so hard on the numbers and steps that I'm afraid I might step on the foot of my cha-cha dance instructor, award-winning ballroom dance competitor George Pytlik.
It's Tuesday night at the Grand Ballroom, my second day of dance training.
I'll be training three times a week for the next few weeks in order to be ready for the Richmond Hospice Association fundraising dinner and dance competition, Dancing with the Richmond Stars, on March 3.
A few months ago, Pat Miller, executive director of the Richmond Hospice Association, approached me about its fundraising idea. With the exploding popularity of the television series, Dancing with the Stars, the hospice decided to hosts its own dance competition to raise money for its programs and services.
Miller asked local celebrities to come on board.
Fancy that, Miller thinks I'm a celebrity. (When I told my sons, they both rolled their eyes and laughed - so much for me being a celebrity in their eyes.)
Because I believed in the cause, I agreed to take part. However, as soon as I decided to do it, I started to panic. I began to ask myself how could I dance in front of a large crowd and not be a pool of nerves? What if I trip, what if I fall, what if I make a complete fool of myself?
When I told my mother about dancing in public she laughed and said: "Do you remember when you took ballet? During the year-end recital you were the only one dancing the wrong way?" All these years later, I remember the humiliation.
Although I'm still nervous, I'm committed to helping the hospice raise money.
I met up with Pytlik for the first time two weeks ago. He wanted to get to know me and find out what my ballroom dancing skill level was. Well that's easy, I told him - zero, nil, nada.
So here I am, trying hard to learn the moves before the March 3 gala soiree, when I have to dance in front of a couple of hundred strangers.
I'm sweating just thinking about it. But I'll do it anyway, and here's why:
Since 1986, the Richmond Hospice Association, a nonprofit society, has provided support to those at the end of their lives, as well as to their families and loved ones. The hospice runs a number of important programs such as companionship for individuals who are dying, individual and group support, telephone support, library resources, support programs for family caregivers, bereavement support programs, monthly support meetings, walking through grief, drop-in groups, community information programs and relaxation therapy.
I think that says it all.
Dancing with the Richmond Stars takes place on Saturday March 3, 2012 at 6 p.m. at the Grand Ballroom, 12200 Riverside Way. Tickets are $125 and go on sale January 16.
For more information, visit www.rich-mondhospiceassociation.com/dancingwithstars.html
If you are interested in being a sponsor or in making a donation, call Pat Miller at 604-279-7141.
Here's a list of the other dancers and instructors: Laura Van Sprang (Richmond Funeral Home/Hospice Foundation) with dance instructor Andy Wong.
Dr. Alan Nixon (Richmond Hospital) with dance instructor Linda Chen.
Fannie Leung (Fannies Flowers) with dance instructor Wei Wang.
Kim Howell (Deputy Chief, Richmond Fire Rescue) with dance instructor Young Ryu.
Linda Reid (Liberal MLA); Don Dixon (Blundell elementary principal); Casey White (Oldies Radio CISL 650)
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