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• VERY inspirational PEOPLE
SILVER ANNIV. MEMBER
STEP BY STEP, professional dance instructor Elizabeth (Edwards) Colclasure built two businesses from the ground up and turned a fun concept into a full-scale fundraising event that pairs her love for dancing with her affinity for children’s charities.
As good as she was in the communications field, Colclasure’s real passion was dancing. So in 2004, she founded her own dance studio, Omaha Ballroom, instructing classes as well as managing all the advertising, web design and event planning. After bringing on additional instructors for Omaha Ballroom, Colclasure expanded into a second, related business in 2006. Dance Central DJ and Events provides deejay service to weddings, holiday gatherings and other events, but offers an uncommon bonus: dance instruction before the big day.
Through 23 straight seasons—two per year—since its 2005 debut, the ABC network television dance competition series “Dancing with the Stars” has been consistently ranked in the Nielsen top ten. So, hoping for modest success on a local scale, in 2008 Colclasure created Dancing with the Omaha Stars to raise money for charity. The debut event “When I tell people what I do, their face lights up. They can’t believe that I dance all day,” brought in around $15,000. In its seventh year, Dancing with the Omaha Stars raised she said. “When I first started teaching, it wasn’t ‘How can I get rich teaching dance?’ it more than $105,000. was ‘How can I do what I love every day?’ We’re just focused 100 percent on it, and it’s all we do for a living.” “It has worked out really well,” she said. “I knew all of these radio and TV people from college and then I knew how to dance, so it has been really easy to pair up the two things.” Pairing up Year after year, Colclasure has managed to convince elected officials, media personalities, community leaders, business executives, notable athletes and other local celebrities to pair up with her or another dance instructor to learn a choreographed routine and perform in front of what is usually a sold-out audience at a venue like a CenturyLink Center ballroom or Ralston Arena. She also recruits a panel of celebrity judges and corporate sponsors, and oversees ticket sales and promotion. Everyone involved volunteers his or her time. Most of the participants are accustomed to being in the public eye, she said, but very few of them have any dance experience. Regardless, as many as 15 local “stars” have stepped up every year.
By “we” she means herself and husband James Colclasure, Jr. The couple met in 2015 at a dance competition where Indiana native James had been hired to install a dance floor. They quickly discovered how much they had in common: James grew up dancing and involved in performing arts, and he knew about the event business through his father’s deejay experience. Before the “When I tell people year was over, James had relocated to Omaha to become what I do, Elizabeth’s dance partner and business partner, and last summer they became partners for life. their face lights up.
They can’t believe that I dance all day.”
“It just fell right into place…Doing things all by myself was a lot of work. Now my husband and I run it together,” she said. “And we practice what we preach. We go out dancing, we travel to competitions, we compete and we take ELIZABETH (EDWARDS) COLCLASURE F students with us. We’re currently competing on the country circuit, with each other and our students.”
“The coolest thing is, we’ll ask people like the Omaha Police Chief (Todd Schmaderer) and (metroQUARTERLY publisher) Andee Hoig, who are really busy,” she said, adding that rehearsals take weeks during a period when the participants are also raising money from friends, family, colleagues and the community. “They’re kind enough to take the time to do this.” On the right foot Proceeds benefit charities like Ronald McDonald House Charities Omaha, Angels Among Us, and Sunshine Kids, reflecting Colclasure’s admitted soft spot for organizations serving children and families. “Every charity helps kids,” Colclasure said. “I have a 13-year-old son. If anything ever happened to him I know how hard it would be to run my business and do what I love to do.”
The couple plan to focus on competing professionally in 2017 to qualify for the 2018 UCWDC Worlds Country Dance World Championships taking place next January in San Francisco. Dancing with the Omaha Stars is on hiatus for 2017, but set to take place in March 2018, which provides more time for planning than in the past and the opportunity to serve the community in a new way. Since both Omaha Ballroom and Dance Central operate primarily during evenings and weekends, the Colclasures are hoping to take advantage of their daytime availability and work with local hospitals to teach dance to young patients for therapeutic and entertainment purposes. “My inspiration was Lily (Dodson), who danced in last year’s show with my husband,” Colclasure said. “She’s a cancer survivor, 9 years old.” They also plan to continue promoting dance in the community. With their shared love for all things dance, they find it easy to cultivate a fun, lighthearted and welcoming atmosphere for both Omaha Ballroom and Dance Central, Colclasure said.
What Colclasure loves to do is dance. She took ballet lessons in childhood at a studio owned by her aunt, but transitioned into ballroom dancing right out of high school after “I am a big fan of doing things that just make you just feel good. Dancing is one of those answering an ad for dance instructors. She then taught classes at a local studio while things. I think one way I inspire people is by finding the fun in the little things. You don’t studying advertising and public relations at the University of Nebraska Omaha. An need anything to learn how to dance,” she said. “The biggest challenge is to express how internship at Journal Broadcast Group fostered connections that would later come in handy it’s not a serious thing, there’s no experience needed, there’s no prerequisite; we’re all for Dancing with the Omaha Stars, and the promotions experience she gained there would there to have fun and nobody’s there to judge anybody. Dancing’s not hard; it’s simple also come to serve her well. and it’s really fun. Once you can get down a few basics, you just run with it.”
mQUARTERLY • FEB/MAR/APR 2017
mQUARTERLY’S SPRING (FEB/MAR/APR) 2017 Issue is online now! metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving t...