December 31, 2012

Couple #1: Trish Bella & Peter Weedon


Trish Bella is currently in her second term as a Trustee on the Board of Eduction, School District 57, Prince George and was elected to the Board of Directors, British Columbia School Trustees Association in February 2012. She became involved in the public education system as a parent volunteer when her daughter entered Kindergarten in 2001, and quickly found her passion as an advocate for accessible, quality public education for all students. This self described “free-style dancer” had never taken a dance lesson in her life prior to committing to Boogie With The Stars. Finding the look and flavour of the Tango intriguing, it became the natural choice for Trish and Peter.

Peter is an active member of Dance North, and a local dance instructor. Originally from England, Peter moved to Prince George in the 70’s. He tells us, “Prince George has been very good to me, and I continue to enjoy life here, especially with Paz”. Dance is one of two serious hobbies for Peter, the other, believe it or not, racing cars. Peter enjoys teaching others the art and pleasure of dance, and hopes to continue to do so for some time to come. Peter & Paz have long since wanted to organize a NYE dance, and finally made that happen in 2010. With the help of Kim Royle from the Spirit of the North, the theme for Boogie with the Stars was conceived, and now we are into our third year, hoping to match or exceed the $17,000 that was raised for the Health Care Foundation last year. This year Peter will be dancing the Tango with his Star partner Trish. He adds, “I appreciate and admire Trish’s tremendous dedication to the community ? she is a very focused lady”.

Couple #2: Dr. Charles Jago & Colleen Ruddy

Fusion: Swing & Cha-Cha

Born in Ontario, Charles completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario. The recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship, he graduated from Cambridge University with a Ph.D in 1969 and published in the field of Spanish history. Currently he chairs the boards of the Northern Health Authority, the Fraser Basin Council, the Sinclar Group, and serves on the boards of Canfor Pulp, Initiatives Prince George and the Canada West Foundation. The Jagos have three sons, all married, and three grand children. A retired squash zealot, Charles now gets his physical exercise helping Mary care for two horses and a dog. He is wont to say: “Jago’s the name; horse shit’s the game.” Charles served from 1995-2006 and 2008-09 as President of the University of Northern BC, and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2006 in recognition of his distinguished academic career and of his role in the creation of the Northern Medical Program in British Columbia. He now has a new challenge on his hands ? learning the mastery of dance !

Originally from Montreal, Colleen Ruddy is a full time teacher at Sacred Heart Elementary School here in Prince George. Faced with the prospect of teaching Gr.6/7 students how to dance, and the “hokey pokey” no longer being a viable option, Ms Ruddy turned to Dance North for inspiration. She began with the Waltz and the students used it in their production of Romeo and Juliet. Surprisingly this led to requests from her students to learn more. Since then Colleen has been a regular member of Dance North and has taught her students Open Swing, Two-Step, Mambo, West Coast Swing and a little Tango. The students continue to nag her for more dances and she continues to accommodate them believing that dance is cheaper than therapy and more fun too! Colleen with be doing a fusion dance with Charles, combining Cha Cha and Swing.

Couple #3: Chris Jensen & Leslie Farella

Fox Trot

Chris was born in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Prince George in 2010. Although only being in Prince George for just over 2 years Chris has shown a personal and professional commitment to bettering our community. As General Manager, Northern BC with TELUS he has helped bring over 100 new employment opportunities with TELUS to the city. Outside of work Chris’ passion lies with playing hockey and golf, and spending time with his 2 year old son and 3 month old baby girl. Chris has been an avid supporter of the Spirit of the North Foundation and was excited about the opportunity to participate in the Boogie with Stars event. Although he has absolutely no experience in dance he has quite enjoyed moving his two left feet to his own special groove.

Leslie Farella came to Canada from Massachusetts in 1977. The family moved around various parts of British Columbia finally settling in Prince George, which has now been her home for the last 35 years, and during which time she has raised four children. She started dancing on and off socially in 2007 because she saw the physical and health benefits in social dancing. Her interest and passion in dancing has grown steadily ever since, and she says now that she has loves every minute of it. This is very obvious to her fellow dancers who have seen Leslie’s style and sway improve dramatically. Now Leslie is going to share that knowledge and experience with Chris, as she guides him through the Foxtrot.

Couple #4: Marioly Neira & Paul Eberlein


Originally from Chile, Marioly moved to Canada in 1991. Marioly has lived in this community since then and raised three children, who have all now gone on to find their own paths in life. She is the assistant manager at the College Heights Tim Hortons where she has worked for nine years with an amazing group of people. She is also the Vice president of the Latin association in Prince George, whose goal is to keep our heritage alive among our members, and to be an active part in our community. She enjoys travelling, which she feels is the best way of opening up your mind to understanding other cultures and learning what this world has to offer. Variety is the spice of life! Due to her Latin background, she enjoys dancing and has done so since a small child, but has never taken formal training. Therefore, when I was invited to participate in this event, I immediately accepted since it would be a great opportunity to train in something that I love to do, and at the same time give back to this community that made a home for me and my family.

Paul was born in Prince George, and currently works as a Computer Software Consultant with Operating Systems, Accounting Programs, Application Systems and Internet Programs. In 2004, Paul took up ballroom dancing with the original Prince George Ballroom Dance Club meeting at Judy Russell’s Enchainement Dance Centre. Since 2006, he has served on the Steering Committee and Executive for Dance North Ballroom Dance Club. He is Treasurer, and Weekly Drop-Ins Co-Chair, helping in many areas, including dance instruction, and is grateful to everyone at Dance North for the chance to experience eight memorable years in the art of ballroom and social dancing. Paul will be doing Rumba with Marioly, and expresses his appreciation for the opportunity to dance with such a beautiful and talented dance partner.

Couple #5: Angela Lesniewicz & Lee Goats


Angela Lesniewicz attended school in Prince George before moving on to get her degree at UBC in Vancouver. She met her husband George while participating in the notorious Sandblast competitions on the Nechako Cutbanks. Angela has been an award winning realtor with Remax Centre City for 18 years, and loves her job, as each day it presents new challenges. Angela, a self confessed, “avid fitness junkie”, goes on to say, “I can be found at the Y almost daily”. She belongs to the Prince George tennis club and is an X-ski instructor who loves downhill and X country skiing, as well as snowshoeing. It should be no surprise then, that she has participated in and volunteered with the Iceman Competition and volunteered at the 2010 Olympics ? naturally, she is looking forward to volunteering for the PG winter games. Having never taken dance lessons, she agreed to participate because of the “noble cause and because I will try anything once”. She is very appreciative of partner Lee Goats who is very encouraging, and from what we’ve learned about Angela, there can be no doubt that Lee must have a similar appreciation of this remarkable lady.

Henry Lee Goats moved to Canada at the ripe old age of 15 and settled in Vanderhoof while going to school. Eventually he signed on with the Prince George Fire Department, retiring from a distinguished career 30 short years later. He enjoys riding motorcycles and bicycles, flying, and listening to all kinds of music, and that’s the connection to dancing – music and dancing just simply seem to go together. He is looking forward to this year’s “Boogie with the Stars” event and working with Angela on the Swing.

Couple #6: Selen Alpay & Paz Milburn


Selen Alpay started his career with Canadian Tire when he was a teenager as a manual inventory counter in his home town of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He eventually became the manager of that store and has never looked back. He took over the Canadian Tire in Prince George, when he moved here in 2007 with his wife Anita. They both loved the community right away, partly because of the area’s great natural beauty, and especially because Prince George still radiates a small-town, comfortable feel. Selen has always been community-minded and has been involved with various charities and organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Women’s Shelters, Substance abuse organizations, Aboriginal concerns, and Hospital organizations. He believes strongly in helping others and giving back, and as he states, “everyone has a story and deserves the right to feel cared for”. In his spare time, Selen enjoys travelling and spending time with friends and family, as well as kayaking, chess, photography, and reading. Selen has not had any previous dance experience, always joking with his partner, Paz, that he has “two-left feet”, but he agreed to participate in the Boogie with the Stars because of the very worthwhile cause.

Paz was born and raised in the Philippines with a love for music, and a passion for dance. She was heavily involved with the Prince George Filipino Club in early 80’s as event organizer and dance choreographer, and was one of the original Hula & Tahitian dancers with the Pacific Dancers. Her passion for dancing was revived in 2006 when she joined Dance North. Paz thanks all the sponsors, stars, instructors, volunteers & Spirit of the North for helping make Boogie with the Stars an annual event. She really enjoyed dancing the Argentine Tango with John Rustad in 2010, and the Jive with Tom Sentes last year was a hoot. This year’s event is full of fun and challenges and she is looking forward to dancing the Salsa with Selen. Selen is a real trooper – despite his health challenges and very busy work schedule, he is not backing down for the race to the trophy. A tip of the hat to Selen. “In my books” Paz says, “he is already a Star and a Champion. I thank you all for your commitment”.