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My First Red Deer Symphony Orchestra

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  • I enjoyed our first-ever Red Deer Symphony Orchestra and celebrated Robbie Burns Day all at once. On a trip to Scotland some years ago, I bought a Mackenzie tartan kilt, sgian-dubh (dirk), socks, sporan, and belt. My wife, Janet, bought a Mackenzie tartan sash and brooch. For this special evening, I rounded out my outfit with a Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket, dress shirt and gillies borrowed from my friend Buck Buchanan.

    We were looking about as fine as we possibly could but we didn’t shine as brightly as did the members of the RDSO. We were literally blown away by the power and expertise of the more than 40 musicians. Wow! I am not well versed in classical music but the performances were truly memorable.

    Guest violinist, Kai Gleusteen, played the entire first half of the program on a violin made in 1781 by J.B. Guadagnini. I had the pleasure of meeting the star performer afterwards and learned the value of this prized violin – over a million dollars. When I asked him if there was a future for budding musicians, he said, “There is always room for young musicians with talent and dedication. What there isn’t is audiences. The general public no longer seems to understand or appreciate classical music.”

    Admittedly, I am one of those people. I’ve had a bit an education (thank you Noreen Kester, music teacher at Aspen Heights Elementary who played classical music every morning over the intercom prefaced by a short educational script).

    Thanks to the quality of the symphony and assisted by Conductor Claude Lapalme’s humourous and insightful explanations, I did appreciate and understand more than I thought I would.

    Added to the music was the opportunity to see all kinds of Red Deer friends I haven’t seen for years. We took advantage of ordering a wee dram in advance so it was waiting for us at the intermission and we maximized our visiting time. Good stuff!

    Will we return? Absolutely! We are looking forward to “A Night at the Movies” at the Memorial Centre on March 23.  See you there?


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    Celebrity Dancer Alex Wood mistaken for 2nd pro on the floor!

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  • As co-owner of Ryde RD Spin Cycling, Alex Wood may have had a slight athletic advantage over even the most physically fit celebrities in the 2019 Celebrity Dance Off.  Wood also trained as a dancer when she was growing up.  Did all that pay off?  Well some of the judges and many of the spectators were under the impression their might be two pros on the floor when Wood and pro partner Peter Samoila performed.  Check out this fast and flawless salsa / cha cha mix.  Amazing doesn’t do it justice!

    My Story…

    I grew up here in Red Deer, this is home. It took me a while to return after high school but I am so happy to be back. I co-own Ryde RD Spin Studio. Red Deer was the perfect place for my husband Dave and I to start our business.

    I studied at Montana Tech and graduated as a petroleum engineer. I met my husband there and we made our way to Calgary for work. After two and half years, I decided that a desk job wasn’t for me so we packed our bags, moved to Asia and travelled overseas. After too much fun in the sun, we decided to move to Red Deer to start Ryde.

    Supporting our clients and the community is very important to us. We’ve hosted many charity Ryde’s including one for the Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off.

    Over the next few months, I’ll be putting my travel bug on hold, trading my spin shoes in for dancing shoes, and trying to regain my dancing skills from my teenage years. I’m honored to be a part of this event and passionate about the cause.


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    Celebrity Dance Off an opportunity for Vinnie Taylor to make a wake up call about domestic violence

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  • The charity at the heart of the 2019 Celebrity Dance Off was the Friends of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.  The entire reason for this event is to raise money for the charitable cause, but perhaps even more importantly to raise awareness about.  It certainly has raised awareness for the Friends this year… a non-profit that supports our health care system with the creature comforts that turn a hospital room into something more healing.  From toys, books and stuffies for young patients to curtains, carts and monitors.. the Friends do more than most imagine.

    But when Vinnie Taylor and Olya Joseph were paired off at the beginning of the 2019 journey, they discovered another cause dear to their hearts.  The professional communicator and the professional dancer decided they’d try to impact the community in a different way by sharing their own early life experiences with the community.  Both grew up in homes with abuse.  They drew from these brutal experiences to bring a different style of dance to the floor in 2019.  Maybe the fact this performance featured celebrity Vinnie Taylor made it even more astounding.  Anyone expecting the same cheery approach they might hear on Real Country 95.5 would have been shocked.  Many were shocked.  Just look on the faces of those on the edge of the dance floor.  In all the years of the Celebrity Dance Off, this Rumba / Paso Doble by Vinnie Taylor and Olya Joseph was by far the most intense performance we’ve ever seen.  Experience a side of this celebrity you had no idea existed.

    My Story…

    Hi I’m Vinnie Taylor! One half of the Real Wakeup on Real Country 95.5.

    I’m so excited to be dancing this year. I am watching all of the classics, Grease, Dirty Dancing and of course Hairspray. I admit that one of my favourite shows is Dancing with the Stars and I’ve always envisioned myself doing the paso doble. I hope I get to wear a pair of tear away pants.

    I grew up around Alberta and loved living in Red deer. I work with several organizations like 100 men red deer, the United Way, Aspire Special Needs, and Ronald McDonald House. I was Mr. February in Dad Bod For a Rad Cause Movember calendar. Every year I “Walk a mile in her shoes “ for Women’s Outreach Centre.

    I have two left feet so my dance partner has her work cutout. I used to be able to bend over, but not so much anymore. To call this a challenge is definitely an understatement.

    I am very honoured and hope to make everyone proud. Let the dancing begin… cha cha cha!


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    april, 2019

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    tue23apr5:30 pm- 7:00 pmLiving Life to the FullCanadian Mental Health Association5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    thu25apr8:30 am- 4:30 pmApplied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)Canadian Mental Health Association8:30 am - 4:30 pm

    fri26apr8:30 am- 4:30 pmApplied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)Canadian Mental Health Association8:30 am - 4:30 pm

    sat27apr1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    mon29apr1:30 pm- 4:00 pmWellness Recovery Action PlanningCanadian Mental Health Association1:30 pm - 4:00 pm

    tue30apr5:30 pm- 7:00 pmLiving Life to the FullCanadian Mental Health Association5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

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