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Dancing With Our Stars: Let them entertain you

Dancing With Our Stars takes stage Friday, Aug. 23 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Show starts at 8 p.m., while doors open at 7 p.m. Ticket available on line at http://www.thecenterforthearts.org or by calling the box office: 274-8384, ext. 14.

The energy was high at the Dancing With Our Stars “One-Month-To-Go” meeting July 25. The dancers were excited to get together, learn more about the production timeline and share some war stories … from the dance wars, that is.

What a difference a few months can make! It has been that long since the kick-off meeting, and you could see how these teams have really bonded. And why not? They have been rehearsing with their new partners, and most have been at it each and every week since May. A lot of trust and so many friendships have developed since.

The Center of the Arts Board Member and liaison for the Dancing With Our Stars event, Jenn Schmall, knows all too well how the dancers are feeling at this stage of the competition. She competed in a similar dance event a few years ago was not afraid of getting everyone laughing, even if it was at her expense.



“At this point the dancers are feeling a little anxiety and showing a whole lot of cockiness just to intimidate the other dancers!” Schmall said. “I love seeing all camaraderie between dancers and the friendships being formed all because of this event.”

All the dancers really want to entertain the community at the event Aug. 23 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. And of course, they want to raise money at this important fundraiser for The Center of the Arts.




Michael Hallenbeck is the medical director for Grass Valley Radiology Medical Group and is vice chairman of medicine at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. That may be the man by day, but by night? Celebrity dancer — and potential dance superstar!? The judges will make that call.

Hallenbeck is partnered with Marissa Hernandez, and they are determined to make their dance routines real crowd pleasers. It seems that Mike can find the humor in just about everything he does, and he is determined to be entertaining at this event … or die trying.

“Marissa is a great choreographer and trained dancer,” Hallenback said. “I myself am a proud, self-taught dancer.”

It seems he may have gleaned some of his moves from his older brother. The boys grew up listening to R&B dance music in Bethesda, Md.

Hallenbeck is surprised at how taxing the dance rehearsals are, and how sore he gets. His wife, Lotus, has been supportive through the whole process, a different story for his two kids.

“Yeah, the kids (ages 8 and 10 years) have only just begun to be embarrassed over my dancing,” he said. “This is good for them, and they ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Belle Star also likes to dance, especially Salsa dancing. She is partnered with Darren Raines, and really wants to make a good showing at this important fundraiser. She has a long history with The Center, and has produced many events on the main stage.

“The development of The Center has been remarkable,” she said. “Without fail, I have witnessed it grow and succeed year after year.”

Belle and her partner have been rehearsing at various dance studios, and even at her home.

“The dining room has hardwood floors and is large enough,” she said. “By now, my boyfriend and nephew probably know the routines by heart too.”

There has been joy and laughter, but has also been laced with some sadness. Her father, Tom Hudec, has been suffering with a serious illness. Her wish is for her dad to see her dance performance.

She can’t say enough great things about her partner, Darren Raines.

“In addition to dance rehearsals, he has also spent a lot of time with my family,” she said. “And it has been a real collaboration.”

Belle is well known for her style and flair, so it was natural for her to come up with the concept of their costumes, dance props, etc. Prepare for some creative costumes from them. Their routines will incorporate a bit of the Charleston and hip-hop. And they are prepared to ‘leave it all on the dance floor’.

Rob Lambert is truly up for this challenge. He has been enjoying himself and his wife Andi, has encouraged him at every step of the process. They have busy lives, but their commitment to the community is a top priority. Rob is a filmmaker, runs a Youth Ministry at Twin Cities Church and produces The Union newspaper’s Word on the Street videos. He also describes himself as a self-taught dancer. Though he does have his dance inspirations, citing, “Urkle, from the TV show, Family Matters and Carleton Banks from Fresh Prince.”

Hmmmm. Rob is sheepish about giving a preview of his signature moves. But with inspirations like these, boy-oh-boy, we are all in for a treat.

Rob can’t imagine going through this experience with anyone other than his partner, Cassie McAllister. Unknown to The Center staff when working on the dance partner pairings, they have already worked together on several productions. They got a jump on the trust and camaraderie. Look for their version of a classic Swing dance and for their second dance of the evening, a surprising Contemporary dance piece.


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