Thomas Jefferson student-athletes get ready to showcase their dancing skills
Eric Fairman's only dance experience has been those purely-for-fun moves at the weekly Sunday football parties his family hosts for 30-some relatives and friends.
Chris Serrao has performed in school musicals — and there are the few times he has attempted to dance in his room.
Zack Good learned the basics of how to swing as a child — at 5 or 6 years old — when “Grandma G” got the youngster to join with her as she spun around on the dance floor.
“If a song comes on, she comes over and wants everyone to dance,” Good, 18, a Thomas Jefferson High School senior said about his grandmother, Marie Good.
Even with only minimal dancing experience, a group of Thomas Jefferson senior athletes say they're ready to take to the stage and show off their mostly newly learned skills to the public as the school hosts its fifth annual “Dancing with the Athletes” at 7 p.m. Dec. 4.
The event is sponsored by Student Council. The high school athletes, in a format similar to ABC's hit series “Dancing with the Stars,” will be paired with a trained high school dancer who choreographed a routine in one of several genres.
The winning couple — selected by the judges — will receive the “Golden Shoe,” and, of course, bragging rights.
Tickets cost $5 at the door.
All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Four Diamonds Fund, a nonprofit that supports families with children who have cancer. The money will go toward the school's $10,000 goal set by students this year for their first mini-THON, planned for April 5.
“The best part, of course, is that we're raising money for a good cause. But it's also something exciting for the whole school to look forward to,” said Thomas Jefferson senior and 15-year jazz, contemporary and tap dancer Becky Stem, 17.
The dances often are comical, with fun costumes and surprise moves to keep the audience entertained.
Thomas Jefferson junior Lexi Stoicovy, 16, a 12-year lyrical, jazz, hip-hop and tap dancer, selected Ricky Martin's 2000 chart-topper “She Bangs” to perform a tap dance along with Serrao.
“She obviously had to know that I'm very quick and limber on my feet,” Serrao said with a laugh.
The volleyball player said he had concerns about the dance at first, but after the daily practices for the last three weeks, he's starting to pick up the moves.
“It sounds perfect when she does it. I'm getting there,” Serrao said. “She's given me all of the easy steps.”
The dance, with a Spanish flair, has its funny parts, Stoicovy said.
“We're going to go out with a bang,” she said.
For the athletes, learning how to dance wasn't as easy as they anticipated.
“I thought in my head, we might only have one practice. I pick things up quick,” said Fairman, who is performing a jazz routine to Justin Timberlake's “Suit & Tie,” along with Stem.
After 13 tries just to get that first move down right, Fairman said, he came to one realization: “It's a lot harder than I ever thought.”
For Good, who is dancing with Thomas Jefferson senior Taylor Childers, 18, the moves to Glenn Miller's “In the Mood” are starting to click.
Remembering Grandma G's words from his childhood has helped, he said.
“When we first started going over the swing and she would say, ‘Slow step, quick step,' I remember my grandma saying that,” Good said.
Even now, Grandma G has stepped up and danced with both Good and Childers, they said.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.