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December 19, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Inspired by the dancers even more than the dance

“Dancing With the Stars” is back! And I, for one, am happy about it.

Millions of people, I’m sure, are thrilled that this ABC television hit is back for its 18th season, with new faces, some new “old faces” and, most remarkably, the kind of story lines that make this show a fan favorite.

I am no critic of dancing or any other kind of talent-laden show, and I don’t pretend to be one. But I do know that “DWTS” is nothing else if it isn’t exciting.

Disclosure: I am a ballroom dancing groupie. My dear wife, Myra, has been spending every waking minute the past couple of years getting in and out of some outrageous dance costumes, multiple pairs of dancing shoes and on and off of practically every competitive stage this side of the Mississippi in her pursuit of perfection as the Greenspun version of the dancing queen.

In short, dancing is her life. That means it has become my vicarious life — I am her biggest fan — and that also means I am along on this journey for the ride — or to provide the ride.

That ride includes meeting some of the nicest and most talented professional dancers on the planet. And that brings me back to “Dancing With the Stars.”

Some of our best young friends are dancers. We spend many Monday nights at the show’s taping. Dance professionals Maksim Chmerkovskiy and his brother, Valentin, and Tony Dovolani have been our friends for a few years — not quite long enough for their extraordinary skills to rub off on me — so we are always thrilled to watch them in person.

This season promises to be a most energetic and dramatic season, thanks to the dancers’ life stories. Here are some of the most compelling, starting with Olympic gold-medal ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

In the show’s premiere, they showed their amazing skills on the TV studio’s dance floor. Meryl’s partner is currently Maks (returning after two seasons’ absence); Charlie’s professional partner is currently Sharna Burgess.

And then there was 64-year-old Diana Nyad, who went from swimming with the sharks from Cuba to Florida to dancing with some pretty big fish on national television. In doing so, she gave her contemporaries a shot of that “sure we can do that” energy that makes her story so compelling.

The one story that made the television audience gasp with the thrill of victory of the human spirit was that of Sochi Paralympic snowboarder and bronze medalist Amy Purdy.

Amy, a graduate of Cimarron-Memorial High School. is a double amputee, having lost both legs just below the knee. That didn’t stop her from competing at the highest level in the Paralympics, and it sure didn’t stop her from dancing up a storm with her partner, Derek Hough. If you are looking for some art imitating life, and some inspiration to take your minds off of the daily grind, you needn’t look any further than “DWTS” on Monday night.

That show has it all this year. It has my friends and their partners and a host of stories that mirror the true grit that helps us strive for the American dream. And isn’t it time we did more of that?

Enjoy the dance!

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