They will dance. They will twinkle. They will raise money for Valdosta State University Theatre & Dance and Music students.
The Second Annual Dancing with the Valdosta Stars is scheduled for this weekend. The event matches the VSU Music Scholarship Alliance with VSU Theatre & Dance to raise scholarship funds for the university’s performing arts students.
Dancing with the Valdosta Stars is not a competition. No prizes. At least not for the regional celebrities dancing in the program. Instead, the winners are VSU theatre, dance and music students.
“Last year’s event was so successful that people were phoning in the day after the event not only wanting to know the date for next year’s benefit but wanted to put in a bid for participating,” says Eric Brandt Nielsen of VSU Dance. “We raised about $30,000 gross and after expenses the Music area and Theatre/Dance area each received $12,000.”
Given the response to this year’s second dance, it will likely continue next year, too. The event has been considered sold out for the past couple of weeks, Nielsen says, but some individual seats may be available at a few tables.
As for watching a competition, the dance teams do receive votes for every ticket they sell and audience members vote by cash donations throughout the event. There is an audience choice award, but that’s the extent of the event’s competitive nature.
“Since this is a benefit, we try to downplay the competitive side and place much emphasis on having fun with what is shown,” Nielsen says. “I don’t think many of our stars would have jumped into this event if they knew we were judging their dances like the popular TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
Like last year, the dancers open the evening as a team, presenting an opening number featuring all eight dance teams — this year, dancing to a cha cha choreographed by Nielsen, who also choreographed a number for one team. He also coordinates the performances in regard to time limitations for all teams.
Since announcing the dancing stars earlier this year, the card has changed slightly. Initially selected to dance, VSU First Lady Dacia Charlesworth was unable to participate.
The dance teams are State Rep. Amy Carter with Caleb Spivey performing a waltz. Donna Farwell, St. John Catholic School chorus director, with Alvara Leyva performing a salsa/mambo. Mara Register, City of Valdosta assistant to the city manager, with John Sineath performing a tango. Robert Goddard, a financial advisor, with Hannah Moore performing an Argentina tango. Dr. Charles Hobby M.D. with Ashley Thompson performing a swing/shag. VSU Blazers head football coach David Dean with Sarah Arnett performing a paso doble. David Troy, Lowndes Drug Action Council executive director, with Brooke Butler performing a swing/disco. Stephanie Blevins and Chance Wall performing a swing.
This weekend’s event is scheduled to briefly feature last year’s Dancing with the Valdosta Stars participants during a Parade of the 2012 Stars. VSU Theatre’s Jacque Wheeler and Duke Guthrie are the evening’s masters of ceremonies. The VSU Jazz Combo will perform for periods when the audience may dance.
Second Annual Valdosta State University Dancing with the Valdosta Stars, Saturday, April 13, with 6 p.m. social hour and 7 p.m. dinner, VSU Student Union Grand Ballroom. Limited tickets are possibly available, call Jeani Synyard, (229) 834-6004.