Fund-raising dance show features Mon City celebrities
Weather forecasts notwithstanding, the stars will be shining in New Eagle the first weekend in June.
That is, dancing “stars.”
“We're certainly looking forward to another evening of fun, entertainment and dancing” said Dorothea Pemberton, executive director of the Monongahela Area Chamber of Commerce. “This one promises to be even bigger than last year.”
“This one” is the second annual Dancing With Our Stars (DWOS) gala dinner and fundraiser to be presented by the chamber on June 15 at the New Eagle Volunteer Fire Department's social hall.
Styled after the hit ABC-TV show, “Dancing With The Stars,” the event will feature eight couples – each comprised of a local “celebrity” and a professional dancer from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio of South Hills – competing for the coveted mirror ball trophy.
This year's celebrity contestants are:
• Sharon Brown, principal of Madonna Catholic Regional School in Monongahela.
• Tanya Chaney, massage therapist and owner/operator of Chaney's Natural in Monongahela.
• Billie Sue DeForest, manager and shareholder/operator of Tregembo Motors in Bentleyville.
• Tammy Henson, teller at First Niagara Bank in Monongahela.
• Chas Fine of New Eagle, an Informatics nurse at UPMC Presbyterian/Shadyside in Pittsburgh.
• Benjamin (Benny) Fisher, sales and marketing coordinator for Slagle Roofing in Monongahela.
• Chris Grilli, professional photographer and owner/operator of Grilli's Studio in New Eagle.
• Dr. Colin Webster, a chiropractor and owner of Webster Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation in Monongahela.
“They are a very enthusiastic group,” Pemberton said of the contestants. “They readily accepted our invitation to compete and are looking forward to the challenges of the competition. We are deeply grateful to them for their time, commitment and participation.”
Pemberton also emphasized that each DWOS celebrity will be well prepared for his or her one-and-a-half-minute dance routine.
“They certainly won't be coming in cold,” she said. “Each one will go through five 45-minute instructional sessions with the professionals at Arthur Murray Studio. The idea is for the professional dancers to determine what dances best suit the contestants' talents and personalities. So, you are likely to see them doing (at the actual competition) anything from a cha cha to a tango, a waltz to the jitterbug, or even the Twist. Whatever works best for the dancers and their professional partners is what will be presented. The Arthur Murray staff has been very cooperative in providing these services.”
Pemberton said that advance instructions and rehearsals are in line with the rigid preparations contestants on ABC's “Dancing With The Stars” endure.
“They put in many long hours of rehearsals, it's a tough grind,” she said. “But the end result is what you see on television. They are well prepared and our contestants will be the same. Some of them are likely to be taking additional lessons and practicing at home to further their readiness ”
Pemberton knows from first-hand experience. She and her husband, Les Pemberton, were contestants last year.
“We competed against each other, of course, and it was fun,” she said. “But we were very serious about being prepared, for putting our best forward, if you will.”
The winning couple will be determined by a combination of voting by a panel of judges and audience balloting. Votes in the form of funds donated will determine the People's Choice Award.
Complementing and enhancing the event will be longtime popular disc jockey Bill Lemon. He will provide the music for the dance competition and then offer a variety of music for open dancing for all in attendance until 2 a.m.
Lemon and Anthony Bottino, of Allstate Bottino Financial, who is president of the chamber's board of directors, will serve as masters of ceremonies.
“Bill offers a true professional touch to everything he does,” Pemberton said. “His personality and knowledge of all types of music will lend themselves to the spirit of the evening.”
The Dancing With Our Stars festivities are open to the public and will begin with dinner at 6 p.m. The dance competition will start at 7:30 p.m. and the award presentation will take place at 8:30 p.m..
The event also will include dance demonstrations by the Arthur Murray professionals, a wine bar hosted by Ripepi Winery, a cash bar, gift auction and other prizes.
Tickets are $35 each and can be purchased online at www.MonongahelaAreaChamber.com or by calling 724-258-5919. The chamber is accepting sponsors of reserved tables for 12 at $450.
Pemberton said no tickets will be sold at the door on June 15.
Proceeds from the event will help the chamber fund Monongahela's annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration at the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium. The chamber has sponsored the traditional Independence Day festival since 1973.
Pemberton said the initial DWOS venture last year was “very well received.”
“The dancers had a great time,” she said. “And the response from the audience was positive and encouraging. There was no question that we would try it again this year.”
Ken Kulak, a member of Monongahela City Council and an architect with CM Services Architecture, was the initial Dancing With Our Stars winner in 2012.
“Ken and his (Arthur Murray) partner did a fantastic job,” Pemberton said. “All of the contestants did and we're confident that this year's group will perpetuate the standard they set.”
Ron Paglia is a freelance writer.