I’m sure I’m not the only one who is somewhat anxious when I’m setting off to visit the dentist. So it was quite surprising that I was very cheerful as I flew down the highway to Newton Falls, Ohio. After all, I was en route for a whole day with a dentist, Dr. Jill Babinec, in charge! For those who have never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jill, let me introduce her. My first awareness of Jill was at the Ft. Wayne Showdown in Indiana. There was this very cute petite young woman with a wide mischievous grin sitting behind the DJ controls. She had a wicked sense of humour indeed. I discovered that she was a couples dancer and DJ but was becoming involved in the line dance scene as well. And what a terrific dancer she was, rhythm in every pore. Next thing I heard she was instructing and also writing dances. She began to appear as a popular DJ at big line dance events, always approachable and open to requests and up on the dance floor with everyone else. What I didn’t know at that time was that she also organized her own annual line dance workshop as a fund raiser for Breast Cancer research which is a cause after her own heart. When she invited me to teach at the event I was delighted to say “Yes!”
Fast forward to Fall 2008. It was a beautiful time of year to drive to Newton Falls. Such a pretty part of the world. With a bright blue sky above us we passed fields of grape vines, colourful trees of red and orange, and delightful little towns with Lake Erie glistening to the north. Jill grew up in this charming area and still lives and works in Youngstown. It was now time to find out about this interesting individual in person. As a youngster Jill told me that she always loved to go to the dentist. She and her sister “would take our pet monkeys (puppets of course) and we would sit there getting our teeth cleaned while the monkeys were watching and the dentist would just laugh and laugh. He got a big kick out of them and he even stuck dentures in mine. He made going to the dentist FUN.” When Jill grew up, she wanted to be a doctor but at the same time she wanted to have some flexibility in her life to allow her to follow her dreams; the two did not seem to mix. So she explored her options a little further and became interested in the “teeth business in high school”. She liked working with her hands and decided that “making people smile with more confidence and feeling better about themselves” would made her work worthwhile.
It was quite a leap from being a Dentist with her own practice as well as working at the local hospital, to manning the controls behind DJ equipment. Initially she danced both line and couples on a local basis after she graduated from high school in 1989. Then, after she graduated from Dental School, she started DJing for weddings and parties to earn some extra spending money. In 2000 she met a DJ who worked events further afield and started working with him and then ventured out on her own. Since that time she has kept the dance floor movin’ at Worlds, Windy City (Chicago), Ft. Wayne (Indiana), Canadian Classic, JJ JAM (Indiana), Vegas Explosion (Nevada), Tampa Bay Classic (Florida), as well as helping out at the Shamrock Event (Ireland) and City Of Light French Championships (Paris).
Jill loves being a DJ but decided to try her hand at instructing and choreography as well. She has written dances with Joanne Brady, Barry and Dari Anne Amato, Carole Daugherty, Glen Pospieszny, Scott Schrank and Judy McDonald. “Hound Dog’ which she wrote with Judy was used as the Worlds 2009 Novice Novelty dance selection. She has also been invited to teach at a number of dance events and there is always laughter in her classes.
But my trip to teach at Jill’s workshop gave me the opportunity to see her in the role of event organizer. The workshop hall was large and bright with a high stage. This was fortunate as the hall was full. One hundred & forty dancers had pre-registered but many more turned up at the door. Word had obviously spread that Jill runs good events! . Jill interspersed the instruction with lots of open dancing which “gives the dancers’ brains a rest and their bodies time to loosen up”. I could see that everyone felt quite comfortable asking for their requests; Jill is very approachable. She had organized lots of raffle prices and an auction for her fund-raising and it was most successful. There were smiling faces everywhere, especially when everyone headed home with a complimentary tube of toothpaste!.
So let’s do a check-off --- qualified capable dentist, talented line and couples dancer, DJ for both line and couples, choreographer, instructor and martial arts expert – I forgot to mention that! Jill only started learning martial arts in March 2008 and already has her blue belt, 5th level. There are a total of 12 belts before you can achieve black belt status. It will take about 3-1/2 years of training total. No doubt this will be a perfect skill to have when someone asks for the ‘Tush Push’ for the 20th time during the evening!
Jill is an individual who has demonstrated that choices in life can be limitless and fulfilling with a wide variety of interests that can complement each other and bring enormous satisfaction. Dancers are indeed happy that one of her choices was to participate in our dance world.