The Center for the Arts hopes to spin the popularity of the “Dancing with the Stars” TV show, now in its 19th season, into gold for local audiences. The nonprofit arts organization will host a “Dancing With Our Stars” fundraiser Aug. 23. Nine local celebrities, along with their professional dance partners, will be vying for top honors in this inaugural benefit.
A portion of the proceeds from Dancing With Our Stars will fund improvements to meet Americans With Disability access to the stage area at the 308-seat venue at The Center. This is the final important remodeling project that will give access to the stage for those with mobility issues. Previous improvements included easy access to the theater, seating, restrooms and art spaces. The theater is used for many activities, not just concerts, such as school graduations, lectures, children’s programs, receptions and more.
“It is really a community multipurpose venue,” said Julie Baker, executive director of The Center.
Board member Jenn Schmall is the person responsible for bringing the idea to The Center.
“I was a participant in a similar event. It was an amazing evening for the entire community,” she said.
“No, I didn’t win,” Schmall added. “My partner and I left it all on the dance floor. I am not saying we were robbed or anything, but I wanted that darn trophy, and those judges were crazy.”
Local celebrity dancers are Rob Lambert, Hollie Grimaldi Flores, Dr. Mike Hallenbeck, Belle Star, Stan Miller, Roxanna Cohen, Dr. Brian Evans, Allison Swartzendruber and Machen MacDonald. Schmall has provided support for the dancers. They have enjoyed her behind-the-scenes stories, tips and performance tricks, according to The Center.
Each celebrity dancer has committed to raising $2,000. Rhonda Herrin, development director for The Center, said she has been impressed at the celebrity dancers’ fundraising creativity.
“Roxanna Cohen, owner of The Pilates Place in Grass Valley, is having a Pilates Matapalooza event Saturday at Nevada Union High School. She will conduct a Pilates mat class with donations going toward her $2,000 commitment,” Herrin said. “She has a special surprise for participants, and is sure it will delight those who attend.”
Cohen’s professional partner is Nick Katzman, and they promise a trick or two for their performance.
KNCO on-air personality Hollie Grimaldi Flores has a special evening planned to reach her $2,000 goal. From 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Matteo’s Public Restaurant in Nevada City will donate 15 percent of all drinks or dinner proceeds to The Center. Grimaldi Flores will be at Matteo’s for the duration of the evening, as well.
“I was happy to do this for The Center, especially when I heard that the proceeds would go to providing a lift for those with disabilities to have access to the main stage. I have been working with my pro dancer, Barry Connick, every week, and it is a great workout. We are doing an East Coast Swing to the (very fast-paced) Zoot Suit Boogie,” she said.
Former Nevada County Associate Superintendent of Schools Stan Miller got an early jump on fundraising. He began collecting money for The Center after his retirement in June. Co-workers, friends and family wanted to get his dancing campaign off to a big start. Miller loves The Center for the Arts and loves to dance, he said, adding that his professional partner, Lucy Galbraith, is a great teacher, and he has had to step up his game (no pun intended).
“I am excited/anxious about our dance numbers. I don’t want to give anything away, but we plan to be ready for prime time,” Miller said.
General admission tickets for the Aug. 23 event are $25; reserved floor seating is $45; VIP table seating that includes reserved parking, dessert, and champagne is $95 per person. To buy tickets go online at http://www.thecenterforthearts.org and click on Dancing With Our Stars; call 274-8384, ext 14; or drop in at The Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St. in Grass Valley.
Read more each week at www.theunion.com and in Prospector for a look behind the scenes, including the highs and lows of each of the dancing couples as they do their best at fundraising and dancing, as they really break in those dance shoes.