Orland Township’s 5th Annual
‘Dancing with the Senior Stars’
Crowns New Champions
Without going into a “Song and Dance”- no pun intended, Orland Township seniors enchanted the crowd with their creative choreography and charming dance transfers at the Township’s fifth annual Dancing with the Senior Stars competition and fundraiser October 20 at Georgio’s Banquets in Orland Park.
Thanks to Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Mokena and Arthur Murray Dance Centers in Orland Park enabling each competing couple up to 10 complimentary dance lessons prior to the big night. With instructors and coach’s toe tapping tips, they perfected their suave steps and learned some fancy footwork. When the couples hit the dance floor on Oct. 20, they thrilled the audience and judges with one spin after another, and it was obvious their hard work and training had paid off.
“This year’s ballroom dancing competition completely wowed everyone in attendance,” said Supervisor Paul O’Grady. “The performers were so good, it was hard to pick a winning couple.” “The energy in that room from family and friends was something very special.”
But like any competition, a winning couple had to be chosen. So after the votes were tallied and the scores tabulated, it was announced that Joyce Bakotic and John Meister were the 2016 winners of the glamorous mirror ball trophy.
“Our coach was Isaac Jones from Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Mokena,” said a jubilated Joyce Bakotic. “We (John) did social dancing on the weekends and that’s where we met.
“It’s been about a year we’ve been dancing together and tonight we just happened to have a good routine,” added Meister.
John’s other routine is currently serving as a senior transportation driver for Orland Township. In 2015 John was awarded “Senior Citizen of the Year for Orland Park.”
Joyce has been an Orland Township resident for 38 years and her dancing involvement began as she participated in the Recreational Therapy Dance group for the Vet at Hines Hospital. She started dancing lessons on Wednesday afternoons at Orland Township, followed by the Orland Chateau diner/dances from the township.
“You could tell that all the contestants in this contest trained really hard, that was apparent by all the different routines,” replied Bakotic. “Everyone used their dance lessons to the there very best and it really showed itself on the dance floor.”
“It was just a fabulous evening, all the contestants really cheered one another on,” said Meister. “Sure, we were trying to outpoint one another, but their was a ton of respect for all the dance teams that went out there, we all watched one another and we all gave one another positive acknowledgment after each performance.”
That type of gesture was spinning throughout the room from the host of family and friends, to the judges and to the performers.
“Dancing with the Senior Stars is always a great night of entertainment,” Supervisor O’Grady said. “It’s amazing to see so many people in attendance supporting our local seniors, and not only that, but supporting the Orland Township Scholarship Foundation as well.”
Dancing with the Senior Stars benefits the Orland Township Scholarship Foundation, as do many of the Township’s other large, annual events. In 2016, the Scholarship Foundation awarded a total of $16,500 to 22 outstanding high school seniors for their academic achievement and community service.
It certainly can be said that hard work by the performers, the staff and volunteers who work on Dancing with the Senior Stars, and the scholarship recipients of course is the common thread that runs throughout. However, the more “soft shoe” approach is what the champion’s coach suggested.
“He told both of us to relax and have fun,” said Meister. “That was the advice our dance coach told us to remember the most, and it just so happens my favorite adage is “Old guys, just wanna have fun.”
Fun winning the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy as 2016 Orland Township Dancing with the Senior Stars Champs.
On behalf of Orland Township, thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Dancing with the Senior Stars. You are all stars in our eyes, and we hope to see you again next year!