Country Dancing

Line Dancing to an Orchestra


Over the summer months the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra was looking for line dancers to participate in their “Country Christmas Concert” to be held in December. They first reached out to the Dusty Armadillo; however, those instructors weren’t interested. Then another local teacher was contacted, but she didn’t get a good response from her students.

One of my students, who also takes classes at both of the aforementioned places, forwarded the email to me. I contacted the Symphony to get a few details and after speaking with Patricia, I felt it would be both an interesting experience and an outlet to introduce country line dancing to a crowd who may have never seen it performed.

I mentioned it to my students at Rolling Mills Bar, which is a ten minute drive from the Symphony’s venue, Powers Auditorium in downtown Youngstown, Ohio. I had a few dancers commit to performing, so the wheels were set in motion and the next step was to discuss plans with the orchestra’s conductor, Randall Craig Fleischer. He wanted us to perform one dance to the song “Achy Breaky Heart”.

Now I had the task of choosing a dance to perform, and I felt I had three options: use a dance already choreographed to that song; choreograph my own dance, or find a different song’s dance that had all the necessary criteria. I decided on the third option with the following stipulations: since we would be dancing on a stage facing the audience, I wanted a “1 wall” dance that my students already knew and liked that wasn’t either too easy or hard. Sounds simple, right?

After much consideration, I chose “I’m on a Roll” choreographed by Rob Holley. View the step sheet below and you will see it’s a “2 wall” dance, so I made a slight adjustment in the last 4 counts of the dance and eliminated all the restarts. With those variations, I was ready to dance it to the ‘Achy Breaky’ for my students. They were surprised at how well the dance fit the song and were able to quickly adapt to the changes.

CopperKnob – I’m On a Roll – Rob Holley (August 2018)

We had a couple more practices and were ready for our tempo rehearsal, held the night before the performance, with the conductor and orchestra. We took our places on the stage in front of the orchestra and after a brief discussion about tempo, they started playing and we danced. We only needed to run through it one time and were done! Next would be the dress rehearsal the afternoon of the show, then the performance in the evening.

Luckily, our part of dress rehearsal ran smoothly, we only had to dance it once! We shared the front of the stage with two singers and female fiddler. We had a few hours before we had to be back in our seats for the first half of the performance. At intermission, we moved to the back of the auditorium so we could discreetly exit when it was our time to report backstage.

We definitely got the crowd clapping and people cheered when we finished our dance! I was happy to share the stage with my dance students: Sachiko, Maggie, and Sabrina. It was quite an experience dancing to orchestra music in Powers Auditorium for such a large audience!!

Dori Yez teaches Country Line Dancing on Mondays at Rolling Mills Bar in Girard, Ohio and occasionally on Thursdays at the Landmark Hotel in Mercer, PA. For more information, check out their Facebook pages. Dori also teaches line dance at the Cortland Ohio SCOPE Center on Fridays.

Photo: from L to R is: Maggie, Sachiko, Dori Yez and Sabrina. (Photo taken by C. Bayuk)

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