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concerts

Melanie Randall: Inspiring Others to Live and Dance Strong

Founder of Live and Dance Strong, and Owner of Dancewear House, Melanie Randall.

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with a loss, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Melanie Randall, decided to take one of the most difficult times in her life, and turn it into something beautiful as a way to process her grief.

Five years ago, Melanie’s father, Richard J. Randall, passed away and she set out to start an event that would help in her healing process. The result was Live and Dance Strong, a fundraiser that serves as a wonderful opportunity for choreographers and dancers alike to come together and deliver a unique dance experience.

Randall says, “Each year the show is different, and we have begun to touch on other people’s pain and grieving process. Cancer has affected so many people. I never dreamed that by starting Live and Dance Strong I would bring hope and empowerment to so many other young women who have lost someone—it’s been very special.”

This year, the event brought their total donations to the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care to more than $30,000 since its inception and for the first time, they paid a special tribute to cancer survivors.

Planning for Live and Dance Strong starts in early winter, and around March Melanie begins to send letters to local businesses, requesting sponsorships and donations for the show. In May, she sends out choreographer applications to studios in the area.

They recently added a concert element to the planning process, by hosting a concert at their home on the lake in an effort to raise awareness and funding within the community. Melanie adds that social media has also made the event easier to put together, saying, “Facebook has made it easy for us to have an online presence, enabling us to connect with choreographers and sponsors we may not have met any other way.”

Even after growing up dancing for Keltie Collins, Andrei Bossov and Genie O’Brien, she never imagined that she would have a career in dance. It wasn’t until she was getting ready to graduate with a degree in English that she considered buying Dancewear House in Hallowell, but after six and a half years, it was clearly the right choice. She says, “I wasn’t really sure that an English degree would prepare me for running a business, but my years in college certainly did.”

Melanie (center) with her Mom, Mary Elizabeth Randall (left), and her fiancé, Scott Lowery (right) following this year’s Live and Dance Strong event.

Most days, you will find Melanie helping young girls find their way on a similar career path. She says, “I spend most of my days with dancers’ feet in my face,” as the primary person that handles Pointe shoe fittings.

So what is her secret to happiness and success?

Randall says, “Follow your dreams—find something in life that you’re passionate about, and keep it close to you, especially when life gets hard. We all have the ability to take a negative situation and make it into a positive one, so don’t ever give up! One person has all of the potential in the world to touch someone’s life and change their own.”

To learn how you can get involved with Live and Dance Strong, please visit, liveanddancestrong.org, or like the Dancewear House on Facebook.

Kylie Keene: From Spokester to Tour Correspondent

Is this week’s Monday Maine Maven the next big name in entertainment media? Kylie Keene is well on her way!

You may recognize Kylie as the Young & Free Maine Spokester, an outreach program by Maine’s credit unions that allowed Keene to serve as the face and voice of the 18-25 year old crowd in Maine. In this role, Kylie helped that demographic make sense of banking and money through the use of videos and interviews, and attending events throughout the state.

Keene says, “I was so thrilled to be chosen as the Young & Free Maine Spokester. I was able to apply the skills I had learned in school, and build new ones throughout the year.”

These skills will come in handy as she embarks on a new journey as the Nabisco 1D VIP Tour Correspondent. For those of you that don’t know, 1D is short for One Direction…yes, the multi-million dollar recording artists, and every teenage girl’s dream.

How did Kylie get the gig? She says, “A friend shared the position with me on Facebook, saying I was the first person that came to mind when she read the job description. I read the details, and when I learned I could blog, make videos and share stories while enjoying live music and traveling the country, I knew I had to apply!”

In her new position, Kylie is responsible for connecting with fans and sharing the live concert experience with them, even if they can’t make it to a show—sharing stories from the concerts, delicious snack recipes, opportunities for fans to score tickets to concerts, and much more.

Keene adds, “There’s also a great mobile app fans can download that shares exclusive video content, and cool stuff like voicemails from One Direction and a cyber photo booth where fans can create images of themselves with the bands.”

This opportunity serves as a great stepping stone for Kylie in a career as a multimedia journalist. She developed an interest in the field after shadowing a reporter at a Portland news station in high school. Kylie says, “After seeing the fast-paced, ever-changing environments that journalists worked in, and the new people they met on stories each day, I knew I wanted to pursue a field that would offer the same opportunities.”

Who inspires Ms. Keene? While she admires the work of Ann Curry and Barbara Walters, she says, “I am most influenced and inspired by my peers who are currently working in the field; those I graduated with, or worked with as a news intern. I am so proud of my friends who continue to work hard as journalists, and I admire their talent and drive.”

If Kylie’s job sounds like a good fit for you, or someone you know, her advice is to “find mentors and learn from their expertise,” and “to surround yourself with individuals who inspire you, support you, and motivate you to become the best version of yourself.” She adds, “If you really want to do something, and you believe you can do it, then you will.”

To follow Kylie’s summer as the Nabisco 1D VIP Tour Correspondent you can check out her blog at, http://nabisco1dvip.tumblr.com/.