by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
A group of women from the northwest metro area are high kicking their way to holiday cheer around the Twin Cities this season. The ladies, known as the Sleigh Belle Dancers, have been performing tap, jazz, and Rockettes-inspired dance numbers every holiday season since 2007, when a couple of friends who love to dance decided to bring their passion to as many local stages as they could fit into their busy holiday schedules.
“We love, of course, the holidays,” said co-founder Lori Goldstein, of Maple Grove. “We wondered, ‘What can we do to bring fun entertainment during the holiday season to the Twin Cities area?’ Then we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a spin-off of the Rockettes? That’d be a lot of fun.’ And we were right, it is fun.”
Melonie Robran of Corcoran said that although the group is a jazz/kick line, “We also perform tap.”
The group has performed at the Maple Grove Sleigh Bells and Sparkle Parade, Mall of America and other malls, the VA Hospital, many local senior citizen living facilities, and numerous other venues. On Dec. 23, the group will be in the Holidazzle parade. They won’t be performing but will be the engineers of the train at the beginning of the parade, collecting food for the food shelf.
When they’re on stage, Goldstein says they like to perform a variety of upbeat numbers to really highlight the dancers’ talents.
“We have a really fun tap number called In the Move. It gets everybody snapping their fingers and clapping their hands. There’s a big band number that we dance to. And a jazz kick number. It’s set to a Christmas melody and the girls get to show off their high kicks,” she explained proudly.
All of the Sleigh Belle Dancers are so dedicated to the group, they spend their own money to pay for their costumes and rehearsal space. And though the group is just a hobby, all of the women have a solid background in dance.
Goldstein, herself, has been dancing since the third grade and currently teaches dance at Summit Dance Shop in Plymouth, where the group also holds its rehearsals. She and her husband are on a ballroom dance team and, in 1993, she and a partner won second place in the national Country Two-Step competition in Nashville, Tenn.
The Sleigh Belle’s other co-founder, Yvonne Viehman, also has a strong background in dance. She and her husband have been hosting Music Around the World: Polka Spotlight for the last three years. The show airs five days a week around the state and in North Dakota. She has been dancing since she was in middle school.
Viehman enjoys the camaraderie of the group.
“This is a group of intelligent, wonderful women,” Viehman said. “And it just so happens that we all share a love of dance.”
But it’s the connection she gets to have with people in the community that really makes her efforts worthwhile. In addition to getting recognized by strangers who watch her polka show, she loves connecting with people after Sleigh Belle performances.
She recalled, “After our show at the VA, one gal had tears in her eyes. She said ‘You just made my whole month.’ That’s so meaningful to me, to hear something like that.”
The Sleigh Belle Dancers will next be performing their high kicks and high-enthusiasm Christmas numbers Friday, Dec. 14, at the Medina Ballroom in Medina at 9:30 p.m.