Dancing with the Tahoe Stars returns for fifth year | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Dancing with the Tahoe Stars returns for fifth year

Autumn Whitney

The time has come for the return of one of Tahoe’s hottest recent traditions: the fifth annual Dancing with the Tahoe Stars will grace the stage in MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa’s showroom on Saturday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m.

Ten couples, featuring local stars and dance professionals, are set to perform a variety of dance styles in an event that supports Tahoe Arts Project (TAP), a local nonprofit that helps provide professional performing arts in the South Lake Tahoe community and schools.

“This is our fifth year doing this and it’s just fun. People that are in it have a good time — they’re all like, ‘Wow, I can scratch that off my bucket list and say I danced in front of 1,200 people at the MontBleu theater.’

“It’s a really fun event — behind the fireworks and Harveys Concert Series, we got third place for Best Annual Event [in Best of Tahoe],” TAP executive director Peggy Blowney said.

Dancing with the Tahoe Stars is modeled after the television show from which it gets its name — the couples have each learned a choreographed dance routine and will perform in front of a panel of judges, and the audience has a chance to vote for their favorites, too.

The scores from three local judges (Marcia Sarosik, Don Bosson and Paul Middlebrook), combined with the results of the audience text vote, will determine the winning couple, who will take home a trophy.

“We also have a People’s Choice Award; that’s actually going on now. People can go online and vote for their favorite couple, and it has nothing to do with dancing. Whichever couple raises the most money wins a prize,” Blowney said.

Twenty participants will compete in Dancing with the Tahoe Stars, which features West Coast swing, bachata, Bollywood, samba, country, salsa, hip-hop, jazz, jive and pasa doble performances. Teams were formed in mid-January based on contestants’ dancing style interests, but TAP began reaching out to potential dancers far earlier.

“We look at our community and we try to choose people from different sectors. We’ve got the principal from Bijou, a doctor from Barton, a Realtor — we’ve got Matt Levitt from Tahoe Blue Vodka.

“People will sometimes say to us, ‘I know someone who would be great,’ and we call them. They’re chosen from different parts of the community,” Blowney explained.

Country dance instructor, choreographer and DJ Bob Truesdale was partnered with Barton Health physician Alison Ganong for the event. Together, the pair will dance a combination of country two-step and country swing, and have met approximately two times each week in order to practice.

Truesdale, who began teaching dance in 1981, participated in Dancing with the Tahoe Stars last year and looks forward to Saturday’s show.

“It’s not as stressful,” he noted. “I know what to expect, so it’s a lot more fun.”

His partner, Ganong, is making her dancing debut this year.

“I’m a musician and was a music major in college; this is bringing back my artistic side.

“The cause is also important. I grew up in North Lake Tahoe, so I know that getting kids to experience culture and the arts is important. It doesn’t happen often in a small town,” she said.

The country dancers will compete against nine other duos, one of which consists of Reno-Tahoe dance instructor Spencer Spanton and Bijou Community School principal Cindy Martinez. The two will perform bachata, a dance that has its origins in the Dominican Republic.

“It’s recently become popular in the U.S.,” said Spanton, who noted the different styles within the genre. “There’s open footwork and also a closed position, which includes more body movement. We’re trying to use both.”

He has 13 years of dancing experience, the first five of which were focused on hip-hop. Martinez, who has no formal training, described her dancing background as casual and attributed it to growing up with Latin music.

“It’s exciting; I think this is the first year this style has been included,” Martinez said. “It’s been a lot of fun — I wish I was a dancer.”

All ages are welcome to at the event, which costs $10-$50 to attend. Purchase tickets and learn more at http://www.tahoeartsproject.org or call 530-542-3632.

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