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Gateway teacher gears up to jive at Dancing with the Celebrities

| Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, 12:33 p.m.
Ramsey Elementary School kindergarten students hold up perfect scores for teacher Jeffrey Siegwarth and instructor Luanne O'Brien after the pair performed a practice run of the routine they will perform at 'Dancing with the Celebrities' in Irwin on Nov. 10.
Christine Manganas | For the Tribune-Review
Ramsey Elementary School kindergarten students hold up perfect scores for teacher Jeffrey Siegwarth and instructor Luanne O'Brien after the pair performed a practice run of the routine they will perform at 'Dancing with the Celebrities' in Irwin on Nov. 10.
Jeffrey Siegwarth and dance instructor Luanne O'Brien perform their ballroom jive routine in front of students at Ramsey Elementary School, Nov. 1. The pair will compete in a fundraiser dance competition on Nov. 10.
Christine Manganas | For the Tribune-Review
Jeffrey Siegwarth and dance instructor Luanne O'Brien perform their ballroom jive routine in front of students at Ramsey Elementary School, Nov. 1. The pair will compete in a fundraiser dance competition on Nov. 10.

Ramsey Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jeffrey Siegwarth was nervous as he prepared to ballroom jive in front of a large group of 6-year-olds.

He knew that kids can be a tough audience.

But after an enthusiastic three-minute Dancing with the Stars-style performance at the school gym, the more than 30 young judges held up placards giving their teacher perfect scores of 10 all around.

“I think I was more nervous about this performance than I am about the real one,” Siegwarth said.

The teacher's rehearsal for the youngsters was preparation for him to represent Gateway School District at Dancing with the Celebrities, an annual fundraiser featuring performers from Pittsburgh businesses, organizations and schools. The event this year is Friday at Antonelli's Event Center in Irwin.

Siegwarth's practice run in front of three kindergarten classes was mostly jive with a hint of rumba thrown in.

“I tap dance,” Siegwarth said. “It's a completely different style of dance, but I think it has come in handy.”

The friendly competition for charity is why Siegwarth was interested in participating.

“I enjoy the collaboration of the dance, and it's all for a good cause,” Siegwarth said.

Founded by Integral Ballroom dance instructor Luanne O'Brien, the fundraiser has raised more than $850,000 in the past decade. Each fundraiser focuses on a different organization in need, with proceeds this year going for the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania Open Your Heart to a Senior program.

While O'Brien acts as Siegwarth's partner and instructor, the nine other competitors are paired with professional dance instructors from around Pittsburgh.

The pair have been rehearsing since June, but O'Brien said the routine came easy for Siegwarth.

“He's been such a quick study,” O'Brien said. “We've been working for months, and he has picked it up rather fast.”

Christine Manganas is a freelance writer.

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