When I was a child, I remember watching professional ballroom dancing with my grandma on TV. The beautiful outfits, the refined romance of it – stuff right out of a little girl’s imagination.
That’s part of what makes the show “Dancing With the Stars” so riveting. That, and the idea that people who have no idea what they’re doing can learn to love dancing, and can learn to do it well (and if they can, maybe we can, too…)
The only thing that could make the premise of the TV show any better is if we knew the people learning to dance – and now, we can! The Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Program and Big Brothers Big Sisters put their heads together and came up with “Dancing With the Williamsburg Stars,” a fundraiser for the two organizations.
The event will be taking place Saturday, March 13, at William and Mary’s Phi Beta Kappa Hall, and the local “celebrities” have been working hard with professional dance teachers in the area on their various dances.
“Celebrity” dancers are Anne Conner (Towne Bank), Emmett Harmon (James City Police Chief), Brien Craft (Wal-Mart Distribution Center), Charles Crone (philanthropist), Janna Hymes (Williamsburg Symphonia), Gary Massie (Jack L. Massie Contractor), Vittorio Minichiello (Sal’s), Liz Montgomery (Jazz Vocalist), Ginny McLaughlin (William and Mary), and Marshall Warner (Chesapeake Bank).
They each have partners/ instructors, some from 7 Cities Ballroom in Williamsburg, Amy’s Dance Studio in Newport News, and William and Mary (students, that is), along with one local couple with a background in dance.
I called up one of the instructors, Marilen Sarian of Amy’s Dance Studio, just to check in now that we’re in the home stretch. Her partner is Charles Crone, and they’ll be dancing the Jitterbug Swing, she told me. Below is a fun video of folks dancing the Jitterbug, just to get you in the mood.
Marilen says Charles was a little nervous about learning to dance, so she chose the Jitterbug because it’s fun and more relaxed. It’s only a few weeks before the big day, and she says he’s doing great.
“He’s really developed a lot of confidence,” she says, “and that’s our goal as instructors – to teach students they can do this.”
Each of the couples is doing a different dance, and they all have a different dynamic, according to Marilen. Not to mention some friendly competition.
Joan Peterson, Executive Director at Rita Welsh, is pretty jazzed about the event. “The buzz for Dancing with the Williamsburg Stars has been amazing and it is likely to be the event of 2010 for Williamsburg,” she says.
“The featured stars represent a cross-section of the community all of whom are well known and very popular so we expect to sell out. It’s going to be an incredibly entertaining evening that is guaranteed to delight all.”
So far, they’ve sold well over a hundred tickets for the event.
Judges are also going to be well-known folks from around town. Judging the Dancing with the Williamsburg Stars are Taylor Reveley, president of the College of William and Mary; John Moorman, head of the Williamsburg Regional Library; Rebecca Rushforth, a dance professor at the College of William and Mary, and Aaron Brooks, retired NFL quarterback. The mistress of ceremonies is Cathy Lewis, host and executive producer of Hear/Say with Cathy Lewis and What Matters on public radio and television.
Pick up your tickets at William and Mary’s Web sitehttp://www.wm.tix.com/Event.asp?Event=239386 or call the box office at 221-2674. Tickets range in price from $25 for just the performance up to $100, which includes a VIP reception at the Muscarelle Museum.
Other fun news…
Great Wolf Lodge is hosting a swimsuit fashion show with Carol Weir, a well-known swimsuit designer, on March 6. A portion of the proceeds will go to the breast health awareness group Beyond Boobs – but what woman needs an excuse to watch a fashion show? Take a peek on our calendar for details.
Sentara Health Foundation recently awarded more than $500,000 to nonprofits in the area, and of those funds Olde Towne Medical Center picked up $30,000 to fund a pediatric part-time dentist to serve children with limited or no insurance in James City County, York County and Williamsburg. With the help of this grant, Old Towne Medical Center will provide dental care for about 300 residents of the greater Williamsburg area. The Lackey Free Clinic in Yorktown was awarded a $15,000 grant for the pharmacy expansion project to provide prescription medications for uninsured patients on the Peninsula who are at 200 percent of the federal poverty level.