From the choir to the dance floor _ _ nrtoday. com

“The froufrou dresses, the bling, the spray tan, the hair,” she sighs. Hawaii christmas vacation “At that time I had never really walked in high heels. Hawaii get away I didn’t have pierced ears.

Hawaiian vacations deals I didn’t have contact lenses. Deals for hawaii vacations You can’t do competitive dance in bifocals.”

We are sitting at her kitchen table on a rare Thursday morning when Retallack has not driven to Portland to sweat and swirl through four hours of lessons with two professional ballroom instructors.

On Thursday mornings, Retallack drops her dog Chloe at day care in Pleasant Hill and heads to Portland for 1½ hours of dancing with her first instructor. Tour packages hawaii She catches her breath and a bite of lunch on the drive across town for 2½ hours with a European Dance champion from Prague who is now her competition coach and dancing partner.

She’s back in time to pick up Chloe before an evening at the Eugene Symphony or a rehearsal session with one of her groups. Good deals to hawaii In addition to training for dance competition, she is in rehearsals at the time we talk for a concert by Eugene Vocal Arts and Eugene Concert Orchestra.

This weekend’s Ohio Star Ball is the last and largest of eight national competitions Retallack entered this year in a concerted effort to push her performance on the dance floor.

Days begin with a run or weight workout. Holiday packages hawaii Late afternoon finds her in a fitness studio for 1½ hour of solo dance practice. Hawaii trip packages In between, she focuses on creative challenges of Eugene Concert Choir and ensembles, working at the group’s Willamette Street offices or at home. Best price hawaii vacation package She’s often at it until 10 p.m.

The dream that propelled her into a role she’d never imagined for herself — a flashy dancer in ruffles and strappy heels — emerged at the Lane County Fair a dozen years ago.

By the time a pair of spirited dancers caught her eye at the fair, she had been directing the 100-voice Eugene Concert Choir for 20 years and had expanded the group’s range and concert season with creation of Eugene Vocal Arts and Eugene Concert Orchestra. Hawaii trips deals Her two sons were almost grown.

She was about the same age then as I was in 1989 when I looked up from my reporter’s notebook and bumped into my inner jock — a physical outlet for the competitive energies that had fueled professional goals.

For each of us, chance encounters triggered an unexpected introduction to a passion and a person we hadn’t known before. Traveling packages to hawaii A surprising part of our selves that expanded dreams and possibilities.

Diane had danced a bit as a youth. Hawaii tour packages But then came college and she redirected her focus, achieving a bachelor’s degree in music education, a master’s and then a doctorate in choral conducting.

The dancing fairgoers who ignited her imagination were good, she says. Hawaii cruise When she asked where they danced locally, she learned about the Eugene Lindy Learners Association.

Diane and her husband, UO geology professor Greg Retallack, 64, began attending dance sessions with the Lindy group. Vacation packages in hawaii They added Sunday ballroom lessons at UO Gerlinger Hall.

The more they danced, the more dancing Diane wanted. Travel deals for hawaii Before long, her ambition outstripped his and she signed up for private lessons with a Portland dance instructor who taught in Eugene twice a month.

When the instructor hinted at competing as a pro-am dance pair, Diane traveled to Seattle to watch a regional event. Go to hawaii That night she cried herself to sleep.

The contrast between the confident, glittering dancers she watched compete and the image she had of herself seemed a chasm she’d never cross. Hawaii air and hotel packages She could see that there was more to dancing than learning the steps.

“It’s like being in a play. Hawaii vacation hotels You can’t just deliver the lines; you have to embody the character. Hawaii cheap package deals Your posture, your demeanor — you have to present an aura of a winner.”

Pursuit of that role has pulled Retallack into a kind of double life. Hawaiian vacations for couples It’s a quick step every day as she whirls from leader to follower, from scholar to student, from creative director to athlete in training.

With her first teacher, she studied nine American ballroom style dances, from waltz to cha cha. Hawaii summer vacation With the European pro, she added 10 international styles. Cheap hawaii packages She began to win medals in her competition category. Hawaii airfare She advanced to higher levels.

Then came a gift that allowed Retallack to invest even more in her dream this year. Travel in hawaii An inheritance from her mother’s sister offered the economic support to fund eight competitions.

The gift provided professional hairdressers who poof her long brown locks and stylists who frost her body in spray tans and dress her in frills. Hotel and flight packages to hawaii It funded trips to Orlando, Las Vegas, San Diego, Ohio.

“This has been a big year,” she says. Inexpensive hawaii vacations “I started becoming a dancer instead of being a conductor who is dabbling in dance. Hawaii tour vacation packages I became a dancer.”

She intends to stay a dancer as she ages, and she won’t be alone in on the dance floor. Hawaii package deals The number of senior dancers in competition has been growing steadily, prompting competitions to expand the age divisions in which dancers compete.

“I’m a competitive person and I want to keep going. Family vacation to hawaii package You have setbacks. Packages to hawaii You have to buck yourself up. Cheap vacations hawaii I am constantly reminding myself just doing that is a success.”

For Retallack, there’s more than physical fitness at stake. Deals to hawaii She hopes to out-dance mental losses as well. 3 island hawaiian vacation packages Both her mother and grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease

“I have read that ballroom dancing is an activity that may ward off Alzheimer’s,” she says. Hawaii thanksgiving vacation packages “It is physical exercise, mental stimulation, balance and coordination.

Carolyn Scott Kortge, of Eugene, is a former Register-Guard editor and writer, and author of “The Spirited Walker.” Contact her at