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posted: 6/30/2014 5:09 PM

The Country Cruisers dance team win first

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Betsy Maaks

"It's a dream come true. I can't believe it. A bunch of barroom dancers actually winning a competition with first place!" Janet Kruse, dance instructor and team leader, expressed her excitement about the transformation of the Country Cruisers dance team she formed in January 2013 to promote line and country/western dancing for the Cadillac Ranch in Bartlett.

The Country Cruisers, composed of nine Chicago-area dancers, celebrated their first dance competition in Herndon, Va., with a surprise first-place win.

The team traveled across the country to enter the first of three regional competitions required for advancing to compete in the Worlds Dance Competition in Orlando, Fla., over the New Year's holiday later this year. The "Worlds" is sponsored by the United Country Western Dance Council (UCWDC), which oversees the dance competitions worldwide.

After attending the Worlds Competition last January and seeing the "cheerleader" routines of the team competitors, they decided to branch out into competitive dancing to show off their own classic country style. The Cruisers specialize in blended couples' and line dancing that integrates the best country/western moves set to modern country music.

As the announcer said when he introduced the Cruiser's performance in Virginia, "This is where our dancing competition started: line dancing and country/western couples dancing. The Country Cruisers are bringing us back to our roots."

In addition to Janet Kruse, team members include Courtney Blum, Cathy Feltz, John Kyle, Betsy Maaks, Dan May, Rob Ryan, Kate Warner and Diana Wood. Two more competitions remain for the dancers before attending the Worlds in Orlando: the Indy Dance Explosion, Indianapolis Ind., July 3-6 and Chicagoland Country and Swing Dance Festival, Rosemont, Aug. 15-17.

The Country Cruisers will perform at The Morton Arboretum at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 6, after they return from hopefully another "win" at Indy.

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