Chamber recognizes Denise Baller as Business Person of the Year

29 Jan

Congratulations to Denise Baller, the high-spirited, fun-loving owner/operator of Dancing With Denise, for receiving this year’s Webster Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year award.

Denise was honored at the recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting. The award recognized Dancing With Denise’s 37-year history in Webster, and Denise’s long-standing commitment to the Webster community. (The list of community service projects which she submitted as part of her nomination form filled a full two pages.)

I can personally attest to that commitment. I’ve featured Denise and her dancers several times in my blog, like when they’ve participated in community events, danced outside the windows at Maplewood Nursing Home, donated money to Bella’s Bumbas, and more.

True to her nature, Denise deflected much of the credit for the award to others in her life, including her husband Bill who found their building and turned it into a “castle”; her parents — “Miss Tina” and Frank — who taught her to work hard and persevere; and of course her dance families.

“I was also excited to use this as a teachable moment for my twins as well as all of my students,” she added, “to always reach for your star.”

Believe it or not, the day got even better for Denise. Immediately after the meeting, she headed over to Penfield Place Senior Living, where she shared the award with her former dance teacher, Joan Grabell Brown.

She wrote,

When the pandemic began, I used to go to see (Miss Joan) by doing window visits. I hadn’t see her since the fall, although I thought of her often. So today I decided to thank HER and show her what I had accomplished. …

It was so wonderful to see her in person and show her the honor I had received and to say thank you. I told her I wouldn’t be “Miss Denise” unless she was “Miss Joan”. I then proceeded to tell how she had inspired me through her own philosophy of teaching dance and that I was so grateful to be able to share this special moment with her. She has Alzheimer’s and every time I go to see her, I often wonder if she is going to remember me. But she does and today was super special because she was proud of me.

On a heartwarming side note, Denise met the facility’s activities director when she was there, who invited her to come back every week to teach a dance class with the residents.

“I am so happy to spread my love to them on a weekly basis, especially to ‘Miss Joan’, who I know is going to be my star student. The circle of life… it’s a beautiful thing.”

All in all, it was pretty much a perfect day.

… a special day I’ll always remember, because I received (the award) and circled it back to the person who instilled in me my love for dance and the ability to share the simplicity of creating an environment where (every dancer) feels like a prince or princess.

Dancing With Denise is located at 1077 Gravel Rd. in West Webster.

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