The first of six winter dance events in Bend kicked off Oct. 29. The monthly event at the Marcoulier Ballroom features a variety of styles of music performed by a live band. It's designed to appeal to everyone who has any level of interest in dancing, from those who are curious about dancing to dancers who have been hitting the floor for years.
Charles Kollerer is President of Bend Dance, a nonprofit formed just five weeks ago to make the dream of a winter dance series a reality. He says, "There are two critical elements to having good public dances. The first is a great band...the second is a ballroom that is enticing and pleasant to get out and dance in." The winter dance series has both.
The Marcoulier family donated the space for the Marcoulier Ballroom years ago, specifically for dancing. It features 3,500 square feet of polished hardwood dance floor, high ceilings and access to a landscaped patio. Kollerer says the venue lends itself perfectly to the elegant experience the club hopes to provide.
Fueling the dance numbers are songs by The Blue Peppers, a new band formed this past summer specifically for the winter dance series. Led by bandleader Jason Jackson, the group also features local jazz songstress and keyboard artist Michelle Van Handel. The band's repertoire includes West Coast Swing, Salsa, Cha Cha, Argentine Tango, Night Club 2 Step, Waltz, Rumba, Hustle, East Coast Swing and the Foxtrot. Kollerer says, "The Blue Peppers is going to be a surprise to Bend...Jason says they want to be the Pink Martini of Central Oregon...and I think they are going to be the best dance band in the area."
So what was the inspiration for the dance series? Kollerer says there were weekly dances in Bend when he first moved here almost seven years ago, but they quickly faded away. "All of us have been dancing for 10 to 20 years and we love dancing. We just want to share this with the public."
While the dance series will satisfy a wide variety of skilled dancers, Kollerer emphasizes that he wants it to be an inclusive event. He says, "In a town of 80,000 there's got to be all sorts of people who at some point in their lives danced, loved it and then let it go. We are inviting them to dust off their dance shoes, come down and start dancing again."
The next dance in the series will take place on Nov. 19 starting at 6:45pm.
Bend Dance Group Winter Dance Series
Marcoulier Ballroom at Larkspur Center
1600 SE Reed Market Rd., Bend