“Hands up anyone who hasn’t seen the movie ‘Dirty Dancing’.” I bet there aren’t too many of you standing there with your hands in the air let alone without your toes tapping as you remember those terrific dance scenes. But I have some wonderful news for you … you can recreate those scenes in the Catskills YOURSELF if you head off to one of Tim Gillis’ weekend dance events! And that was what we were all doing this past weekend!! OK, I know you’re asking “So what do I have to do to be part of this cool scene?” First of all check out Tim’s website http://www.timgillisdanceweekends.com Tim has both a Spring and Fall event in the Catskills then send in your registration form and pack your bags ready to head to the Fallsview Resort.
The Resort is in a spectacular position nestled at the foothill of a mountain. The birds were chirping, cherry trees blossoming and daffodils blooming as we drove up the driveway on the Thursday. There is a special deal if you want to go for the Thursday night which includes a buffet dinner (absolutely delicious, with dessert of chocolate dipped sweet strawberries to die for!), Friday morning breakfast and workshops. We entered the spacious Lobby where we were greeted by efficient and friendly staff and we were soon ensconced in our very large, newly painted room.
We had a little time to wander so we checked out the good size indoor swimming pool with the spacious hot tub next to it bubbling away. A little further along we discovered three indoor tennis courts; we’d already noticed tennis and basketball courts outside. Bronco Jim was already in action setting up the sound system in the Night Club while just across the Lobby in the Harlequin Room Dominic was getting ready for karaoke action. The Dining Room has a beautiful view overlooking the mountain, the lake and the Resort’s own nine hole golf course. By this time my husband, Michael, had already grabbed his golf clubs and was trying it out!!
Come the Friday morning the Lobby was humming as the majority of the dancers started to arrive, many of whom have been attending this event for years although there were quite a few dancers coming for the first time. A Welcome Party greeted them with an Open Bar and tables laden with tasty hors d’oeuvres. At the same time there were ongoing workshops. All the workshops were repeated which I think is an excellent idea and I am delighted when I attend events with this approach. We certainly ate well this weekend as the next thing was Dinner at 6:30. You needn’t stop dancing though as DJ Mike Serben kept the floor hopping non-stop in the Dining Room. The instructors’ demos followed dinner. Then there were lots of choices for dancing during the evening. You could hit the floor with great music action from the Tim Gillis Band with its talented musicians and singers. Donna Shea kept the progressive dancers happy in the West Room, Mike Serben kept the couples flowing, while the Lobby was hoppin’ with Alison Biggs at the helm and you could just peek around the door into the Night Club to see if Bronco was playing something you liked. This was the pattern for the weekend and I felt it worked very well; there was definitely something for everyone. If you felt peckish, a continental breakfast was served at 11 p.m. on the Friday night and ‘make your own ice cream sundaes’ on the Saturday night. The pool was open for late nights swims, a couple of bonus lessons were added at midnight on Friday and both nights after midnight you could join Dominic for karaoke – this was really fun to watch and there was lots of laughter as well as some good singing.
The Saturday followed the same pattern with workshops all day and a choreography competition in the afternoon. The evening brought with it Rosie Multari’s own version of ‘Dirty Dancing’ with the instructors showing a different side to their personalities! The Men in Black Socks had the audience doubled up while the X-tremes were indeed a motley crew. The Mod Quad (who kinda resembled the Amatos and Mirandas) gave a terrific performance and no doubt word has reached Vegas that they would be a great group to replace Celine Dion. Chills ran down our spines as the Thriller crew rose to the surface in the Night Club while Mel & Linda, Donna & Mike, Max & Kathy and Johanna Barnes thrilled us with some lovely dancing. The cast warbled its way through the camp anthem, and then Dirty Dancing reached its peak with Jackie Miranda high diving onto the arms of Doug and Mike Serben as the audience caught its breath. The women reckoned they could catch Barry Amato but he was rather dubious so Doug and Mike took over!!! The grand finale was reached when the audience joined the cast and the floor was full of happy dancers. Rosie does an absolutely wonderful job as the writer, producer and director of these Shows and at the same time is a hilarious MC with Tim as her perfect foil! It was then the dancers’ turn to dance and that they did … the Lobby didn’t slow down until nearly 3 a.m. Sunday morning started with Rosie in charge with a zumba warm-up and more classes to attend while those who just wanted to dance could head to the Night Club where Bronco played whatever they wanted. There was still more dancing in the Dining Room while lunch was being served.
But I should backtrack a little and introduce the staff. I’ll go in alphabetical order. Barry & Dari Anne Amato are a multi talented duo. They are amazing dancers, terrific singers, great choreographers and instructors and very likeable, friendly people. ‘Tainted Love’ which they wrote with Joey Warren brought dancers running to the dance floor. A name I had heard but someone I had never met was Forty Arroyo. In another life Forty could have been a comedienne; her quick and wry wit kept me entertained the whole weekend! Originally from New York City, Forty now lives and teaches in Massachussetts and runs weekly classes and two annual events in the Hayloft Barn in Sturbridge. Check them out, I reckon you’d have a great time with Forty in charge.
Fresh from her successes at the World’s, Johanna Barnes brought her own style of teaching and dance to the event. Johanna obviously loves dancing and presented a couple of her new dances including ‘Can’t Stop’. Alison Biggs and Peter Metelnick are clearly very popular with the dancers at this event. Their dances filled the floor and their new dances ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘A Cowboy and A Dancer’ are obviously going to join the list of successful dances written by the couple. Alison did a terrific job as DJ in the Lobby ensuring that everyone had an opportunity to dance. Peter is up for anything but he did rather cause some concern when he leapt off the stage during the show forgetting that he was wearing a dress! He tripped and hurt his hand but none of the audience would have known as he returned to finish the show. Luckily he didn’t break his wrist although his hand was badly bruised. What a game participant he is.
From Connecticut, Robert DeLong is the choreographer of the competition winning dance ‘Less Complicated’ which has spread world wide. Robert presented some of his newer creations to appreciative dancers including ‘Strong Winds Cha’. Kathy Hunyadi is a very talented choreographer and well known in our line dance community for her dances such as ‘Ghost Train’, ‘Now or Never’, Majik Touch’, ‘Slow Burn’ and many more. At this event she was very excited about her latest dance ‘Destined’ to a lovely song by Jim Brickman. Kathy also taught couples with Max. A delightful young woman, Michelle Jackson from Boston, is a terrific dancer who also choreographs and I saw the dancers having fun with ‘Woohoo, Yeehoo’. Rona Kaye is an experienced instructor of all levels of line dancing who loves to teach and it shows in her interaction with the dancers. She taught dances with a mix of music from beginner country to the funky ‘RudeBox’. Rona is also a terrific dancer and it was fun to watch her on the floor.
Todd Lescarbeau has been instructing and writing dances for over ten years now. He has also competed as a dancer and has been very successful. Todd presented a couple of his new dances at this event including ‘New Boots’. Always with a smile on his face, he was nice company to have around. Lynne Martino is one of those enthusiastic individuals whose passion for line dancing rubs off on all around her. A talented choreographer as well as instructor, Lynne’s dance ‘My First’ won last year’s choreography competition and ‘1 by 1’ was the first place intermediate winner at the Vegas Dance Explosion’. At this event she presented a new dance ‘Learning the Blues’.
Doug & Jackie Miranda need no introduction. Multi talented, they are just so much fun to be around. We all wish we could dance like Jackie, and if we’re the slightest bit down we want to be around Doug as we know he will soon have us chuckling!! ‘Boogie Wanna Dance’ which they choreographed with the Amatos filled the floor and ‘Rainbow Connection’ was popular. 'Madhouse to the Max' is, of course, a massive hit and packed the floor. As well as producing the show, Rosie Multari taught couples with husband, Bruno. The two have taught patterned partner dances together throughout the US and Canada. Talented Rosie is also a well known choreographer and I really enjoyed her dance ‘To The Rock’. Another person who needs no introduction is Award Winning Instructor/Choreographer Max Perry. Max was a very busy man this event! He taught couples, line and in addition a special program for beginners. Max has worked at Tim’s events for many years and told me that the Fallsview Resort and its next door neighbour, the Nevele, were owned and managed by two brothers for many years. The Nevele is “eleven” backwards as there were eleven siblings in the family. Aside from his action packed DJ responsibilities, Mike Serben together with wife Dodie taught couples and line. They have their own DJ and instruction business called RDM Productions Country. Their little daughter Jennifer was a delight to have around, such a cute 2 year old who looks exactly like her Mum! I should add that I had so much fun dancin’ and teaching at this event. Both the instructors and dancers made me feel so welcome – what a great bunch. Thank you all so much. BTW it was gratifying to see dancers run to the floor to join me with ‘Ami Oh’ – some great hip movements going on and thanks so much to Bernie and Chun for cleverly adapting 'On My Mind' as a partner dance over the weekend; check it out on my website.!
The couples were also having fun with their instructors. Donna Shea teaches line as well and has a popular line dance on the floor ‘Stitched Up’ and with partner Mike Quigley she has lead and follow classes and the couple also compete. Mal & Linda Zerden are a pleasure to watch dance and have competed since 1993 winning World Titles. Their dancers obviously enjoy their teaching style.
Of course, we couldn’t dance without the DJs. As I mentioned above, Mike and Alison did terrific jobs. Bronco Jim has been a DJ for twenty-two years and has traveled with Tim’s band for ten of those. Conscientious and hard working, Bronco started work on this event weeks beforehand gathering all the music and ensuring that all the DJs had the music available to play. Bronco also designs and maintains excellent web sites that put novice website people like me in awe. As well as Bronco’s own site, check out the sites he has designed for Tim, Max & Kathy and the Mirandas – they are attractively designed, user friendly sites. I should add that Dominic Trimboli runs a unique DJ/KJ service and the karaoke room with him in charge will keep you entertained.
And, of course, there is the Tim Gills Band. Tim is the lead vocal and plays the acoustic guitar. Judy Lyn Ricci and Lucy Simms are on vocals and also do a lot of the organizational work for the event. The two of them are great fun to be around. Ben Lawson is on steel guitar, Dave Frost on bass Guitar, Ted Brancada on keyboard, Chris Amelar on lead guitar, Chris Gillis on drums, Gary Olea on fiddle and Joanne Frost on background vocals. The Band has an enviable performance record, check out the website and prepare to be impressed.
So most definitely one of those weekends you come away feeling really good about. I gathered that there had been some apprehension as the Resort has new owners but dancers who had been there before were impressed with the new furniture and the fresh paint everywhere and I thought it looked very smart. I should add that Tim has been assured that there will be new dance floors next year as well. The new chef was much appreciated and I liked the fact that you didn’t waste time trying to decide where to go to eat! The new owners have plans for adding a spa and botanical gardens so the Resort will be even more attractive. If you have a non-dancing spouse this would definitely be the event to bring them to as there are plenty of other activities they can do while you’re dancing. Tim is an energetic welcoming host and he and his volunteers go all out to ensure that the dancers have fun and feel part of their line dance family. The instructors also feel very much a part of the team and there is a real team effort to ensure that everyone has a good time and heads home with smiles on their faces even though their feet might feel somewhat sore!!! If you wanted to add a few days, New York City is just over an hour or so away as are the Berkshires and numerous other beautiful areas you could visit. So get a gang together and come out and have fun with Tim and his friends.
DANCES TAUGHT: (written by the Instructor unless otherwise noted)
BARRY & DARI ANNE AMATO
Boom Boom by Preston Brust & Chris Lucas
Tainted Love with Joey Warren
Cuban Pete Cha
Little Cuban Pete
La ChaCha by Sophia van Hees
Triple-Digit Dancin by Janet Wilson
Still Dirrty by Rachael McEnaney & Paul McAdam
AlLISON BIGGS & PETER METELNICK
A Cowboy and A Dancer
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Int & Impr versions)
Holding Back The Ocean
Hot Swing Strut
Strong Winds Cha
Don't Tell Me Goodbye with Max Perry
Hanky Panky by Lee Underwood
Kerosene by Vickie Schermbeck
Woo, Yeehoo with Alana Jackson
Divisadero Cha by Michele Burton
One by Junior Willis & Amy Brockmann
RudeBox by Rob Folwler & Paul McAdam
Talia's Dance by Liz Roseblatt
White Lightning & The Family Tree by Kathy Brown
A Little Southern Comfort by Guyton Mundy
Creek Alley by Steve Lescarbeau
Easy Does It