I Survived by Nancy Mugele

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I finally have my own disco ball! Wanted one all my life and last Saturday evening my dream came true. For the second time in six months, I was completely out of my comfort zone, and survived to tell the tale. (You may remember that in September I took a hot air balloon ride with my daughters.) Last weekend I did something I have not done in three decades, dance on stage in front of an audience. I was both incredibly excited, and profoundly nervous.

Modern dancer Martha Graham said in a 1985 New York Times interview, “To me, the body says what words cannot. Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” I could not agree more. I always wanted to be a ballerina – I also wanted to raise a few ballerinas, but that is another story. In my younger days, I studied jazz, ballet, modern, and tap, but it was my love of disco in the very early 1980s that caused me to become a professional disco dance teacher for a short time. I am not kidding.

In the past month and a half of rehearsals leading up to my performance, I have learned that muscle memory is a true thing, making some of the dance moves as easy to remember as riding a bike, while other, more difficult, moves are simply an accident waiting to happen! Some of you came to see which was which at Dance with the Stars, a biennial fundraising event for Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. Kent School is honored to host the Horizons six-week summer program. Since 1995, when Horizons first opened its doors at Kent School, the academic enrichment program has served hundreds of promising Kent and Queen Anne’s County children from economically disadvantaged families, as part of a national initiative to improve or maintain their scholastic skills during the summer months.

Dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” with Diego Guzman, a ballroom and salsa pro, and dancer extraordinaire from Easton, was truly an experience I will never forget. Diego was patient and kind, and made me feel like a dancing queen on stage.

Those of you who attended know that I had a pretty authentic costume, which was very unlike my usual attire. I loved the way the bell sleeves and the flared pants created drama in silver flashes during my spins. That may also have been the disco mirror ball! I think I may have fibbed and told a few people it was an ’80s original in some conversations which I barely remember, as I was very, very nervous right before I danced. The costume actually came from a shop in California and cost only $30. I had my own dancing shoes. Jim was thrilled because if I had bought a special dress and matching shoes for the occasion, I would have definitely spent a bit more!

Diego and I received a very generous set of all 10s from the judges, and I was touched by their comments. Mayor Chris Cerino’s words resonated with me. I am paraphrasing because I was too out of breath to really hear every word, but he basically said it took a lot of guts to take a risk like that in front of a lot of people I did not know.

We tell our Kent School students the same thing often. Take a risk. Do something you have never done. Failing is a great opportunity to learn a lesson. I am happy to model this behavior when I can although, truth be told, it is definitely scary. “I Will Survive” was a fitting song for my dance, and that is the best lesson I can share with our students – you will survive. And, you will be stronger for the experience.

Diego and I were so honored to receive the People’s Choice 2nd Place Award, and we are deeply grateful to those of you who “voted” for us with your gift to Horizons. I am proud to say that all three winning teams had connections to Kent School. One winning “star” is an alumna of the school and a member of the Kent School Board of Trustees, and one is a past parent who currently works for the company of an alumnus and Kent School Board President. One alumna and member of the Board of Trustees was co-chair of the event. Seven members of the Kent School Board of Trustees were in attendance to celebrate and honor Horizons along with past Trustees. Kent School past and current parents were also at the event.

I got my disco ball trophy, which I will treasure forever. It is currently being proudly displayed in a place of honor right next to Jim’s college Athletic Hall of Fame Plaque! Seems appropriate to me.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown, a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s, a member of the Board of Chesapeake Charities, and a member of the Education Committee of Sultana Education Foundation.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Thank you, Nancy, for taking a step out of your comfort zone and sharing your amazing talent in support of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. You were awesome and taught us all to be brave and live life to the fullest. I am so very appreciative of all the dancers that gave of their time and talent in support of Horizons. It was a wonderful night!

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