The dancers in the Couples Division are couples who have learned a dance from an instructor in eight to ten lessons.
Ivan and Jamie Gracia
Ivan and Jamie own and operate Cantina Vallarta where they enjoy sharing the culture of Mexico through food and music. They host a Salsa Dance night every second Saturday and everyone is welcome to attend. Agreeing to be a participant couple in the Dancing with the Shuswap Stars seemed to them a natural extension of their love of community. It is a perfect fit.
Ivan was born in Mexico and met his future wife Jamie when they were both working as staff in the cruise ship industry. They and their young family are relative newcomers to Salmon Arm. Their son Diego has started school and life for the couple is very busy.
Ivan has a background in dance and has taught dance but Jamie is in her words “learning”. Their favourite style of dance are the Latin Dances in all their variations. They enjoy every opportunity to practice dancing. Jamie has never performed in public and describes herself as a regular Canadian girl. She loves focusing on healthy living, yoga and the outdoors. Ivan is very comfortable performing and can often be heard serenading his customers with song in his busy restaurant. He balances that out with a love of sport as he is a keen basketball fan and a soccer player.
When Jamie and Ivan have any time to spare, they enjoy being in the outdoors and exploring nature. Larch Hills recreation area is a gem they have yet to discover.
Derek and Cleo Leyenhorst
Derek and Cleo Leyenhorst agreed to be involved with the Dancing with the Shuswap Stars fundraiser because they thought that it would be a fun, “romantic” activity that they could do together as a couple.
You may have seen both Derek and Cleo on the big screen at the movies where they appear in those fun advertisements for the Chopping Crew. Derek is a co-owner and stylist and Cleo is a performer of magic as a make-up artist. Cleo has helped a number of brides look their loveliest on their wedding days. Cleo can also be found working as a pharmacy technician at Remedy’s Pharmacy.
Cleo and Derek are relying on their high school P.E. dance classes to help them with their dance performance. Although both have performed before, Cleo in figure skating and Derek singing in a choir and playing electric guitar in a band, neither of them have danced in front of a live audience. They both enjoy their involvement with their church which involves a measure of public performance. Derek and Cleo are ready to put their best foot forward.
Like many young couples, Cleo and Derek enjoy the close proximity of outdoor recreation opportunities here in the Shuswap both winter and summer. They have skied at Larch Hills with their two boys Felix and Benny and enjoy what the area has to offer. In the summer they can be found at the beach or dirt biking with their boys.
Jared and Andi King
Jared and Andi are happy to be taking part in this fund raiser because they feel that “this is an amazing community that will always come together for a good cause. If showing the world our dance moves by participating in Dancing with the Shuswap Stars will raise money for the expansion of the Larch Hills Ski Chalet, then we are all in.” They both love the Larch Hills ski area and Jared says, “I am especially fond of larches and Andi loves hills so it is the perfect place for us. Seriously, we have both spent time snow-shoeing there and love what Larch Hills has to offer our community.”
Jared is the Vice Principal at Shuswap Middle School and Andi is a first grade teacher at Bastion Elementary School and even though they both work in front of a live audience every day, they feel that “dancing in front of adults is going to be different and take us out of our comfort zone.” Almost twenty years ago, Andi and Jared had to take a dance class as part of their degree studies. Now, Andi feels that her first graders put her to shame when they do Just Dance at school. Jared is more confident of his dance moves as he teaches a P.E. dance unit at Shuswap Middle School. As children of the 1990’s, their favourite style of dance is Moshing, so we will watch with interest to see whether their professional dance instructor, Nic, incorporates any Moshing into their Salsa routine.
Andi and Jared have lived in Salmon Arm for nine years and they have four wonderful children as well as a puppy. They are kept busy supporting all of their children’s activities. Andi also finds the time to volunteer as a Youth Soccer coach and as a Board Member of the Youth Soccer Association and Jared makes the time to volunteer as a volleyball coach.
Brandon Schiffer and Kristy Chu
Kristy was born and raised in the Shuswap and Brandon originally hails from Alberta. Following completion of their dental training, they decided to make Salmon Arm their home. Kristy and Brandon are passionate about the practice of dentistry and providing the best care they can for their patients. Despite a busy home life with young son Leo, they are happy to support the Dancing with the Shuswap Stars fund raiser. “This is a good cause and we will have fun participating.”
Brandon is an experienced dancer as he danced for ten years at the Calgary Stampede as a young Canadian. Kristy is hopeful that her toddler ballet and some lyrical dance studied while she was in Grade 12 will make them a winning pair. Brandon and Kristy are both ready for the challenge of a new dance that has to be mastered in eight lessons under the tutelage of a professional dance instructor.
When not busy at work, Kristy and Brandon both enjoy time spent with their son Leo and their red Labradoodle, Rosso. Some of their other activities include paddle boarding on the lake, exploring all the incredible trails in the Trail Alliance system and eating croissants at the Cafe Tasse. Even though in the winter they ski and snowshoe at Larch Hills, their favourite activity is tobogganing in their yard at home.
Ingrid and Rob Van Varseveld
Rob and Ingrid have lived, worked, and played in the Shuswap for twenty years. Rob works as a mechanical engineer at Mill Tech Industries and Ingrid is a grade one teacher at Bastion Elementary.
Rob and Ingrid both enjoy adventure and so are excited to be a part of Dancing with the Shuswap Stars. In their words, “We are willing to give it a try. I (Ingrid) figure I would get a new dress and shoes out of it. But really, we would both love a new chalet at Larch Hills, so we’re willing to be a part of the huge group of people aiming for that goal.” Because they love to boat camp, ski and mountain bike, they are frequent users of the Larch Hills in all seasons. They have three children on the Larch Hills Race Team whom they shepherd up the ski hill three times a week for training and when not training, they all explore the backcountry on snowshoes or skis. They are very comfortable skiing in the dark with headlamps on. To Rob and Ingrid’s family, Larch Hills feels like their own backyard. Waiting for them when they get home from all their outdoor activities is their dog Jessie and a guinea pig named Peaches.
As to dancing, Ingrid will have to be the power hitter here as Rob has no dance experience. Ingrid, as a university student, participated as a member of UBC’s Ballroom Dance Club in the Western Canadian Ballroom Dancing Competition held at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Ingrid said about the competition that “it was a very exciting night and watching those professional dancers was inspiring. I don’t miss all those hours practising in high heels though.” Ingrid likes dancing the Cha Cha and the Rhumba whereas Rob prefers fishing. Rob has decided that he is willing to hang up his fishing rod for this good cause.
Roxy Roth and Dan Murray
Roxy and Dan love the Shuswap, the outdoors, our quaint coffee shops, but most of all the people. They are delighted to contribute to The chalet expansion project and feel it is a bonus to have the opportunity to learn a new style of dancing.
They moved to Salmon Arm 10 years ago and found a community they love. They discovered Larch Hills ski area and enjoy both skiing and snowshoeing there. You will find them up at the ski hill during the Christmas period taking part in the annual lantern ski, which they find to be very magical.
When not enjoying the outdoors, they are both busy with their business enterprises. Dan has a landscaping business as well as working as a massage therapist. He also has experience as a carpenter and chef and volunteers with the Salmon Arm Rescue Unit. Roxy co-founded the Shuswap Event, a free online calendar of local events and social media networks that celebrates great things that are happening in the community. Roxy also has run the In the Groove Studio, teaching music for the past 10 years.
Roxy and Dan love to dance. They have taken some West Coast Swing classes and can do the Country 2 step. They are comfortable with Jive and Swing and Roxy with Hip Hop. They are looking forward to building on their repertoire of dance moves. Learning the Hustle under the tutelage of Orlando Robertson is a real challenge because the timing is so different from dances they already know. On top of that Roxy knows she needs to “learn to follow Dan’s lead” so the one on one instruction has been very helpful. This will be their first public dance performance.