It's a Waltz for the Animals fundraiser


BRATTLEBORO >> What does ballroom dancing have to do with wildlife rehabilitation? Not much usually, but on Friday, Dec. 19 at the Stone Church, 210 Main St. Brattleboro, owners and dance teachers Ray Warren and Lucinda Dee Warren of "Shall We Dance?" will open their doors and hearts by donating proceeds raised from that evenings' lessons and dancing to Patti Smith, author, artist, Bonnyvale Environmental Center's naturalist, and most notably – wildlife rehabilitator.

Smith is locally recognized for her Reformer columns describing her encounters with these furry friends in need, but helping them takes money, most of which comes out of Smith's own pocket. Feeding the animals and providing proper facilities is costly, and while she is appreciative of the help from Dr, Ron Svec of VT-NH Veterinary Clinic who offers his services either pro bono or by payment arrangements when necessary, it doesn't cover all her costs. When her friends at "Shall We Dance?" offered to host a fundraiser on her behalf, she excitedly accepted and plans a 20-minute slide show during intermission.

Smith said, "I plan to talk about the joys and challenges of caring for orphaned wildlife. I will share some stories about special cases, and many photos of my interesting wild children."

It will be an entertaining sneak peek into Smith's interactions with Dandelion the porcupine and Johnny Rotten the opossum, ##Chiplucia the chipmunk and other wildlife neighbors. Most of us don't have the proper knowledge, or a license with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department necessary to do what she does, so this is wonderful way to help.

She will also read short excerpts from her book, "The Beavers of Popple's Pond," also available for sale at the dance.

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The Warrens, who are always looking for ways to support members of the community, are happy to help a friend who so selflessly comes to the aid of injured wildlife and orphaned mammals.

On Friday nights at "Shall We Dance?" a different dance is taught each week, and this week is waltz night. Lessons begin at 7 p.m., then ballroom dancing takes place from 8 to 10:30 p.m. An extra half an hour has been added to the night to accommodate Smith's time for slide show. Lucinda is quick to point out that dance may be taught to anyone, even aspiring dancers who feel that they have two left feet. During the half-hour lesson before the 8 p.m. dancing, Ray leads the men on how to lead and Lucinda leads the women on how to follow, getting them comfortable with the movement and instilling muscle memory for the steps before pairing them back with a partner after which they learn two or three different waltz movements that they can put into action for an evening of waltz.

According to Ray, dance is strengthening, it creates balance between mind and body, and has a healing power that helps people recover emotionally and physically. How fitting then, to use dance as a vehicle to help heal animals.

The Warrens invite anyone to come Friday night, even if just to watch, and there will be a jar for additional donations after the $10 admittance fee for anyone who so wishes. Come in an animal costume and receive a certificate for a free evening of dance on another Friday night. "Shall We Dance?" is known for its excellent refreshments table, and Friday night will also include a potluck snack table. Anyone is welcome to bring a dish.

For more information about the fundraiser, or about "Shall We Dance?" call Ray Warren at 802-579-9990; or email

Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 x261


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