Movin’ On fulfills dreams at Dakota House


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St. Vital

Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Dreams… Our very own seniors’ choir at Dakota House, the Dakota Dazzlers, now defunct, made their dream a reality. We hoped we dazzled with our varied productions. Bob James as conductor and the late Irene Milne as pianist will never be forgotten for their 12-plus years of weekly practices and monthly concerts.

And they left a legacy — a belief that there is a place for amateur singing, even by us retirees. Our choir is now called Movin’ On. The “beauty of our dreams” continues to be realized under the new leadership of teacher and gifted pianist Margaret Rempel, and conductor Irene Young, a former member of Sweet Adelines.

Photo by Anne Yanchyshyn

(From left) Jeanne Carlson, Lori Botan, Keith Coffin, Margaret Rempel, Wilma Coffin, Irene Young, Romeo Montsion.

With COVID-19 somewhat tamed, we recently put on a concert to mark Valentine’s Day. There was every kind of love expressed: from Love Is like a Butterfly, about tender young love, to enduring faithfulness in Silver Threads Among the Gold, to This Old House, with its smile-inducing, unvarnished truths about aging. The Valentine theme was visibly reinforced when Wilma and Keith Coffin hit the floor as we sang Could I Have This Dance.

How fortunate we are to have in our choir a relatively young tenant whose beautiful soprano voice soars through the air so effortlessly. Her name is Lori Botan — a retired teacher with 43 years of service while simultaneously earning B.A. and B.Ed. degrees and raising two children.

But for pressing circumstances, Lori with her silk-like vocals might have thought to dream big. At age four she’d already sung a solo at her church. Perhaps with help from our promising baritone, Romeo Montsion, along with soprano and sometime violinist, Jeanne Carlson, they can still dream up a plan. Presently, we all are happy just to be singing along as a group.

May the whole world never stop singing. For comfort, for nostalgia, I sometimes turn to my iPad and Google for songs from my parents’ former homeland of Ukraine. Years ago, we learned some of those songs for our Christmas concerts at our country school. Chervona Kalyna (The Red Cranberry), for example — brings a lump to my throat as I am treated to its long-forgotten lyrics.

Today I witness the horrors and atrocities of war imposed on Ukraine: the very antithesis of what Eleanor Roosevelt once projected for the future. Beleaguered Ukrainians are dying for their country – and for the rest of the free world — to maintain the dignity and beauty of a dream called democracy.

“Slava Ukraina” — Glory to Ukraine! May your unequivocal dream prevail.

Anne Yanchyshyn

Anne Yanchyshyn
St. Vital community correspondent

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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