HOT FLASHZ

Fun and fab­u­lous, women’s dance troupe siz­zles in South­west Florida

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - DEPARTMENTS - BY ANN MARIE O’PHEL AN

They first per­formed at bas­ket­ball games. And when that gig ended, we came to know them as HOT FLASHZ, a show troupe whose mem­bers are com­fort­ably into mid­dle age. These women had danced dur­ing half­time at Florida Flame games, the bas­ket­ball team that was in Fort My­ers. Once the Flame dis­banded in 2006, those per­form­ers who couldn’t imag­ine a life with­out danc­ing formed the HOT FLASHZ. Its mem­bers have since en­ter­tained us at fundrais­ers, fes­ti­vals and pri­vate par­ties, with pro­ceeds from those events ben­e­fit­ing char­i­ties.

The women with HOT FLASHZ, ages 45 and up, prac­tice twice weekly, us­ing rock 'n' roll, coun­try, jazz, Latin, Broad­way and Amer­i­cana mu­sic, de­pend­ing on the venue. The 16 mem­bers dress the role in se­quined Santa out­fits, zom­bie rags, lime green tank-tops and bright blue shorts, daz­zling the au­di­ence with pom­pons at Fish­er­men’s Village in Punta Gorda at the Key Lime Fes­ti­val, for ex­am­ple.

And, boy, are they crowd-pleasers! “I saw them [at FleaMasters in Fort My­ers] a few years back. They sure livened it up,” says Dan Browne, a South­west Florid­ian who also watched the women per­form at an­other event, each woman in bright or­ange tank-tops, white skirts and boots dec­o­rated in neon green lac­ing. “They al­ways add a lot of fun and you can tell they love be­ing up there,” he adds.

Mar­jean Sage col­lided with her des­tiny scan­ning a news­pa­per. The re­tired in­te­rior de­signer was glanc­ing at ar­ti­cles when she saw try­out an­nounce­ments for a women’s dance troupe. It was for the Florida Flame, she says, in 2006. She made the squad, tran­si­tioned to the HOT FLASHZ, still with them as pres­i­dent. The Or­lando Magic pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball team sent its cheer­lead­ers to Fort My­ers to share dance moves with the Flame women, Sage says. “And we still use the rou­tines,” she says, adding that four Flame per­form­ers re­main with HOT FLASHZ. “It has been an in­ter­est­ing ride for some time now.”

HOT FLASHZ per­for­mances are gen­er­ally 45 min­utes, mostly themed to the event. The women, for in­stance, per­formed a

YOU NEVER GIVE UP WITH DANCE.” —JO­HANNA MEY­ERS, HOT FLASHZ PER­FORMER

Me­mo­rial Day week­end pa­tri­otic show at the South­west Florida Mil­i­tary Mu­seum & Li­brary in Cape Co­ral, an­other at the Key Lime Fes­ti­val in Punta Gorda, and yet an­other at an Easter event in April.

Pro­ceeds from spon­sor­ships and do­na­tions for this non­profit troupe go to char­i­ties such as Camp Boggy Creek, a year-round camp for chil­dren with var­i­ous chronic and life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses. The camp was founded by the late Paul New­man. An­other char­ity they sup­port is the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions War­rior Foun­da­tion. The foun­da­tion pro­vides full schol­ar­ship grants, along with ed­u­ca­tional and fam­ily coun­sel­ing, to the chil­dren of spe­cial op­er­a­tions per­son­nel who die in op­er­a­tional or train­ing mis­sions. The foun­da­tion also pro­vides im­me­di­ate fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to se­verely wounded spe­cial op­er­a­tions per­son­nel and their fam­i­lies.

De­bra Adler has been danc­ing with the troupe for just over a year. “It is an honor to be a part of the HOT FLASHZ en­ter­tain­ment troupe, where ev­ery dancer in our group ded­i­cates time and re­sources to our causes, in­clud­ing pur­chas­ing their own cos­tumes,” says Adler, who adds that the troupe is made up of “great ladies, all ded­i­cated to help­ing chil­dren.”

Jo­hanna Mey­ers is an­other troupe mem­ber who has been with the group since 2005. She is the trea­surer, dance cap­tain and is on the troupe’s so­cial com­mit­tee. Mey­ers also agrees that, as a mem­ber of the troupe, “We like help­ing the kids.”

Since the troupe prac­tices two times a week and en­ter­tains reg­u­larly, they form a tight-knight bond and de­velop close friend­ships. “We bring out the best in one an­other,” adds Mey­ers, who looks for­ward to both the prac­tices and the per­for­mances.

Fur­ther­more, Mey­ers en­joys the fact that in ad­di­tion to danc­ing be­ing a ter­rific form of ex­er­cise, it also builds con­fi­dence and helps de­velop tenac­ity. “You never give up with dance,” she says.

PRO­CEEDS FROM THIS NON­PROFIT TROUPE'S WORK GO TO CHAR­I­TIES SUCH AS CAMP BOGGY CREEK.

Free­lance writer Ann Marie O’Phelan is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia.

The women en­ter­tained us at bas­ket­ball games, be­came the HOT FLASHZ in 2006.

The troupe prac­tices twice weekly and en­ter­tains reg­u­larly through­out South­west Florida. They spend hours as­sem­bling spe­cial out­fits for ev­ery oc­ca­sion.

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