Dancing with the Mountain Stars | SummitDaily.com

Dancing with the Mountain Stars

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

Ronald Holthaus emigrated from Holland to the United States 23 years ago. He meant to just hang out for a few years to see the country and work as a physical therapist, since there weren’t any jobs in Holland when he graduated. But, then he met Cindy, whom he’s been married to for 18 years. Luckily, he doesn’t miss living in Holland too much:

“People here don’t realize how good this country is until they’ve lived somewhere else,” he said.

He decided to become a physical therapist after a torn ACL sidelined him from his dream to play soccer professionally. At the time, rehab from surgery required six months in a cast. It was then he became interested in physical therapy, partially because it permitted him to return to “a level of functioning where I could do anything,” except play soccer competitively. The career path also allowed him to spend time with people and develop relationships, as opposed to being a doctor or nurse where time with patients is much more limited.

Three years ago, he and Cindy (who’s also a physical therapist) moved from Canon City to Summit County; they had been waiting for jobs to open somewhere in a ski resort community, so when Avalanche Physical Therapy hired them, they were happy to move. Before coming to Colorado, the couple lived in Florida; a few Rocky Mountain trips convinced them to trade in the sun and sand for snow and active Summit County summers.

Holthaus decided to participate in Dancing with the Mountain Stars because he “wanted to be able to give something back to the community, and the whole dancing looked like fun,” he said. Like others, he also looked forward to making new friends and “learn(ing) to move better” – all of which he did.

His greatest challenge and fear have been the same: remembering the steps. But practicing two to four hours a week has brought him to a level he describes as “pretty good,” or at least “probably as good as it gets.”

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John Warner has an impressive resume. He’s been a dentist in Breckenridge for 29 years and the town’s major for the last two. Now, he adds “Dancing Mountain Star” to the list of achievements (not to mention that he’s been married for nearly 38 years and, with his wife Carre, raised two daughters, ages 23 and 20).

In his spare time, he loves to backcountry ski, cycle, travel and “occasionally climb some big mountains.” As far as dance experience goes, he’s dabbled – in fifth and sixth grades he took Ballroom Dance Cotillion and 20 years ago, he swaggered into a Colorado Mountain College country swing class. Oh, and he benefits from “a lack of inhibition to dance at weddings and bars.” Yee ha.

“I’m a country swing mind and heart in a waltzing body,” he said. “I guess I’m built for comfort, not speed.”

Lately, he’s been waking up at 3 a.m. every night “thinking and sweating about my dance” and wondering if that particular mental energy counts toward practice time. Physically, he’s spent a couple hours a week since late July going over his routine.

“I am fearful of any dance missteps, embarrassment, utter failure …” he said with a sense of humor, adding that the hardest part involves “making my feet work, looking like I know what I’m doing, and trusting that practice works.”

With the night sweats and all, you might wonder what possessed him to join the dancing frenzy. Well, he wanted to “give back to a community that has been so welcoming to Carre and me,” and after enjoying last year’s event, “with a couple of glasses of wine on board, I said yes.”

He, like all of the participants, is especially grateful to the dance coaches, Stephanie Roller and Melanie Clauer, and all of the wonderful people who have supported his practices, including Mandy Moore and the professional dancers she brings from Los Angeles to dance the night away.