Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 26, 2013

Scholarship event introduces 2013 dancers

VALDOSTA — A few well-known Valdostans may be the ones doing the dancing, but it will be Valdosta State University performing arts students who will take the next steps of their academic careers.

On Friday, Valdosta State University Theatre, Dance and Music personnel announced the participants in the Second Annual Dancing with the Valdosta Stars. The event matches the VSU Music Scholarship Alliance with VSU Theatre & Dance to raise scholarship funds for the university’s performing arts students.

“This is not a competition,” David Johnson, a retired VSU Music professor with the VSU Music Scholarship Alliance, said to the participants. “There are no prizes. All of you are already winners. What’s most important is the impact this will have on our students. ... We do not have a lot of scholarship money. This is really going to help us.”

While there are no prizes, and no official competition, the Valdosta stars help drive the amount of money donated to the event. Their friends, families and associates can reserve a table in honor of a particular dancer. During the evening’s show, the audience members can vote for their favorite dancers by donating more money.

“Voting is done with the dollar and multiples thereof,” said H. Duke Guthrie, a VSU Theatre & Dance faculty member. “... We know that this means a commitment on your part and we know what it means to our students.”

The Valdosta Stars are paired with area dance professionals and VSU dance students. On Friday, the stars met their dance partners.

They are, star and dance partner: State Rep. Amy Carter with Caleb Spivey. VSU First Lady Dr. Dacia Charlesworth with Chance Wall. Donna Farwell, St. John Catholic School chorus director, with Alvara Leyva. Mara Register, City of Valdosta assistant to the city manager, with John Sineath. Robert Goddard, a financial advisor, with Hannah Moore. Dr. Charles Hobby M.D. with Ashley Thompson. VSU Blazers head football coach David Dean with Sarah Arnett. David Troy, Lowndes Drug Action Council executive director, with Brooke Butler. Hobby was unable to attend Friday’s kick-off luncheon, and Eric Nielsen of VSU Dance stood in for him during a photo shoot of the dancers.

These partners briefly discussed with one another rehearsal schedules, possible music and dance styles.

In addition to announcing the partners during a luncheon, Nielsen explained that the stars and their partners will also participate in a group dance.

A couple of years ago, David Johnson had the idea of a joint music-theatre-dance scholarship event inspired by the popular “Dancing with the Stars” television show. The idea came from a similar fundraiser mentioned by his and Susan Johnson’s daughter, Emily.

Last spring, the first Dancing with the Valdosta Stars proved a tremendous success, filling the 40 tables arranged for the event. Based on this success, many area people expressed an interest to perform in the event and more people are expressing an interest to attend the show, said organizer Jeani Synyard, a longtime dancer, dance instructor and a board member with the Music Scholarship Alliance. Organizers hope to add five more tables to accommodate the expected attendance.

Each star, each audience member will help students be a part of the arts.

“If you could see how many kids who would like to come to school but don’t have the money to do so,” said VSU Theatre & Dance’s Jacque Wheeler. “... Your participation is very important.”

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