Arnie Zimbelman dressed to the nines on July 28 as he watched the return of the Elk Grove Strauss Competition at Elk Grove Regional Park.
It did not matter that he was in a wheelchair or that the afternoon warmth was within the triple digits, he nonetheless wore a tuxedo. He additionally wore an Austrian flag pin that was a present from the Austrian Consul Normal and a pin that resembled a purple Iris.
A number of dozen competition dancers, wearing 19th-century Austrian vogue, made positive to greet Arnie earlier than the performances started. His late spouse, Iris, created the competition in 1987 when she wished to see the standard Austrian waltzes and polkas they noticed throughout a trip journey to Vienna.
“What I like probably the most is the truth that it is nonetheless going,” Arnie advised the Citizen. “Iris was advised a very long time in the past when she began that 90% of these items die after a yr, and right here is present quantity 33 and it’s nonetheless occurring.”
Elk Grove’s 33rd annual Strauss Competition has been revived from July 28-31 after two years of cancellations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater than 70 dancers, ages 5 to 81, carried out waltzes, polkas and quadrilles to the music of Austrian composer Johann Strauss II carried out by the Camelia Symphony Orchestra on the park’s Strauss Island stage. Paolo Reyes returned as conductor this yr.
Mark Hedlund, a retired Information 10 reporter and longtime Elk Grove resident, returned because the present’s emcee. Throughout the opening evening of the competition, Cosumnes Group Companies District Board Chair Jaclyn Moreno introduced a $36,000 examine from her district to the competition.
Becky Bennett sat on a blanket close to the island to benefit from the manufacturing’s opening evening. She started attending the competition throughout its early years within the 1980s.
“I like that it is community-oriented (and) to see the children,” he stated. “And you understand there are households in performing. It is positively a competition.”
The dancers included Strauss veterans like John Matthews, who has been on the competition for 30 years. He joined the competition’s polka troupe at age 17 and stated he by no means thought it might be such a protracted a part of his life.
“It is a household, it isn’t simply my precise household, however the dancers, they’re household,” Matthews stated. “There’s additionally a rush if you go on stage and it is enjoyable.”
His daughter, KatieJohn, performed “Iris” on this yr’s competition storyline, which was a retelling of Lewis Caroll’s traditional story, “Alice in Wonderland.” This story, which she named her heroine after Iris Zimbelman, was initially meant to be featured on the 2020 competition that was canceled in the course of the early months of the pandemic. Well-liked characters just like the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts appeared on the competition. Within the scene the place Iris shrinks after consuming a cake, Katie John rapidly disappeared behind a play slide that was embellished as a big inexperienced rock. Then a woman slid down the slide and appeared as Iris’s little self.
Outdated traditions of the competition have been maintained, such because the grand finale during which dancers waltzed to Strauss’s 1866 traditional, “The Blue Danube.”
New households just like the Pattanis joined the solid of dancers and spent a number of months rehearsing. Tushar stated he and his spouse, Tanima, together with their teenage sons Medhansh and Kavish, have rehearsed a number of occasions every week since March. He talked about how the expertise is academic for his youngsters.
“Not solely is it enjoyable, it is also instructing them loads about communication, getting together with folks and listening to everybody’s perspective,” Tushar stated.
Raelynn Springer, a competition board member, spent a lot of her time pausing for greetings and hugs from attendees earlier than the present started. She advised Citizen that volunteers spent as much as seven months getting ready for the competition.
“It is a lengthy street, and so they’re doing it as a result of they take pleasure in it and to see folks come and assist it,” Springer stated. “It is shifting, it brings again that outdated Elk Grove feeling, that nostalgia.”