Tom Davis is polishing up his dance moves, sizing his tuxedo and preparing to hit the stage next Saturday in Dancing with the Tahoe Stars, a fundraiser for Tahoe Arts Project.
Learning to waltz has been a bit of a challenge for Davis, who has no background in dancing.
“The only time I used to dance is if I drank too much,” Davis said of his younger years.
But when asked to participate as a star in the second-annual Tahoe Arts Project fundraiser at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, the four-time South Lake Tahoe mayor couldn’t help but try something new.
Fortunately, Davis has a good teacher. His partner for the show, Angela Smith, is an accomplished dancer and instructor.
“Practice, practice, practice,” Davis said of his progress. “You can teach an old dog new tricks.”
Davis and Smith are one of 10 pairs of stars and dancers preparing for the Dancing with the Tahoe Stars show. The show pairs stars — people such as Davis, most of whom have no background in dancing — with accomplished dancers such as Smith, to see which pair can put on the best show.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit Tahoe Arts Project. The nonprofit brings performing arts professionals to schools to help educate students in El Dorado, Alpine and Douglas counties.
“The people we asked to be the stars are all such good sports. None of them are dancers and they were all like, ‘You want me to do what?’ They’ve been great,” said Peggy Thompson, director of Tahoe Arts Project.
Everyone is practicing their routines, picking out their costumes and planning a few surprises for the stage. Someone will walk off with a trophy, with judges Dan Bosson, Paul Middlebrook and Marcia Sarosik rating performances and people’s choice awards voted on by the audience.
Dreu Murin is producing the show. The event features all local dancers this year.
Video crews have been chronicling the progress of the stars and their dancing partners and outtakes from their rehearsals will be featured as part of the show.
“They’re hysterical,” Murin said. “It’s been a fun experience for everybody.”
Madeline Feldman helped recruit dancers for the show.
“We are so lucky in such a small town to have so much talent on a nationally comparable level. Our pros come from all different backgrounds and each shine in a unique and impressive way,” Feldman said.
“I speak for myself, Dreu and Tahoe Arts Project when I saw we are so thankful to have such talented and professional individuals who are also supportive of our local community and the arts.”
With a week before the show, rehearsals are heating up.
Klaus Utecht, a local Realtor, and his dancing partner, Rebecca Lincoln, are working on their cha-cha.
“Klaus is very energetic and excited and loves dancing, and he loves to put his own moves in. It’s been going great for us,” Lincoln said.
Barton Health administrator Chris Proctor and his dancing partner, Kerri Pipes, are practicing their 1940s swing routine and “getting down to crunch time.”
Dancer Dino Elias and Roberta Benvenuto, a board member of Soroptomist of South Lake Tahoe, are working on their Broadway-style performance.
“She is crazy to say the least and I am crazy, too. You’ll just have to come see us. The show is going to be great,” Elias said.
After his rehearsal Tuesday, Davis admits he has a couple rough spots left to work out in his routine. But he’ll be ready to hit the stage. The waltz he’s been working on for weeks is “graceful. It just flows.”
“We’ll see what happens,” Davis said. “I want to win this thing. I’m a competitor.”
Tickets to Dancing with the Tahoe Stars range from $10 to $22. They’re available by calling MontBleu at 888-829-7630 or at the door the night of the show, Saturday, March 8.
The show starts at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, visit tahoeartsproject.org.