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Dancers raising funds to compete in nationals

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A group of 17 Borderland dancers, including about a half-dozen from this side of the border, are raising funds to be able to compete in a national dance competition on July 10-15 in Wisconsin Dells.

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Dancin' with Darcie's “Stars” performing line will take place on Thursday, June 20 from 5-7 p.m. at the Couchiching Multi-use Facility.

Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under.

Dance school instructor Darcie Schulz is elated to see her senior students earn the opportunity to nationals, where they'll compete against dance schools from all over the United States and get to attend a dance convention where they'll attend classes led by some of the best choreographers and judges in the country.

“We usually compete in the regionals, but this is the first year we have been awarded the chance to nationals,” Schulz told the Times.

“It's kind of crazy. I've honestly never been to one,” she noted, adding she has been teaching in the Falls for 22 years.

The “Stars" group—Schulz's most experienced students—will be dancing to "300 Violin Orchestra”—a number which earned them the super star award, a platinum score, high gold rankings and other awards—during the regional dance competition held in Duluth in late April. The regionals featured 18 studios from across the Midwest.

The “Stars” performing line includes Callahan Armstrong, Emma Bone, Aurora McRitchie, Alacea Yerxa, Kenzie Begin, Rhyan McLean, Kennedi Gosselin, Avery Sivonen, Ameilia Stewart, Trynatie Porter, Sara Coffield, Kaitlyn Kalstad, Gina Boyum, Anna Cowman, Dylann Kacik, Sydney Stevens, and Keirra Aasen.

Armstrong, who was chosen as “Dance of the Year" during regionals after performing her musical theatre dance number "I Just Want to Be A Star,” will also be competing as a solo performer at the nationals. She will be in Wisconsin for an entire week as in addition to competing, she has to learn an opening number with the choreographers there—one of whom is Beyonce's dancer.

But attending the nationals won't be free.

Dinner organizer Toey Bone explained each dancer is responsible for paying their way. Their expenses include not only food and accommodations but competition fees and fees to take classes with reputable dance coaches. Plus, for the Canadian dancers, there's the added exchange rate.

But going will be the chance of a lifetime for the girls.

“The options and experiences they're going to have there are phenomenal,” said Bone, who's daughter, Emma, is among the dancers competing.

Six of the “Stars” will be graduating and moving on after the nationals, so the experience will be extra special for them, noted Schulz.

“They're saying, 'How can we not go to nationals?' And I said, 'Well, I really want us to go, but it has to be all or nothing,'" she said, referring to the fact all of the "Stars” must go and compete as a team.

“It's a great experience, a great way to end the year, especially for those seniors that are going out,” added Schulz.

The fundraiser dinner, which will also feature a penny table, 50/50 draw, and bake table, will be the major fundraiser for the dancers.

Those who want to support the “Stars” should come out to the dinner, but Bone said she's also looking for donations to help reduce the cost of putting on the dinner.

Couchiching FN has generously donated use of the multi-use facility already, and Bone is hoping district businesses will be able to donate food for the meal (buns, pasta, beef, sauce, etc.).

“We are anticipating—and hoping—for about 300-500 people,” noted Bone, adding any leftover food will be donated to a good cause, starting with the retirement facility on Couchiching FN.

Bone noted the dancers, including those dance students who are not going to nationals, as well as their families are all involved in putting on the event, whether it's volunteering at it, or donating items for the penny table, or baking goods for the bake table.

But businesses and individuals are welcome to donate to the penny table as well, or simply make an outright monetary donation toward the girls going to nationals.

Bone clarified that funds raised aren't going to the dance studio; they're going into a pot that will be split between the 17 girls that are going.

Schulz said she's thrilled with the efforts being put into the fundraising to get her students to Wisconsin Dells next month.

“Those that are putting on the fundraising that we're doing across there in Fort Frances are doing a wonderful job with it,” she lauded.

On the Falls' side, a charity grocery bagging day is taking place at Super One on June 28-29, and if anyone wants to come by those days and support the girls, it would be appreciated, noted Schulz.

For more info, or to donate, call Toey Bone at 276-2233.

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