Locals Stars Dance for Art on Aug. 22 | TheUnion.com

Locals Stars Dance for Art on Aug. 22

Alumni from the past two years of Dancing with Our Stars rehearse their opening number for this year's performance at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

The Center for the Arts puts the limelight on some of Nevada County’s very own celebrities for the third annual Dancing With Our Stars on Saturday, Aug. 22 at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

The event, which starts at 8 p.m., is the center’s largest fundraiser, last year bringing in approximately $67,000. Funds go toward the center’s efforts to bring ADA access to the main theater and stage, as well as maintaining the quality entertainment it presents throughout the year.

According to Julie Baker, executive director of the center, the goal for this year’s event is $50,000, noting that they exceeded last year’s goal when several stars went above and beyond the minimum contribution of $2,000.

In addition to the 11 stars’ contributions, additional funds are raised through ticket sales (which range from $17 to $77) and audience voting, where those attending can place votes for $1 each. Last year, some patrons spent hundreds of dollars on votes alone.

While the center holds membership drives and considers each performance and event a fundraiser, Dancing With Our Stars has become the organization’s principal fundraiser.

“It allows us to continue to take risks. You don’t want to be a performing arts center that plays it safe,” Baker said of the center’s eclectic and diverse performances and events. “We really want to be there for the whole community, sometimes that means doing free events, sometimes daring events.”

The local celebrity participants raise funds by holding dining fundraisers, getting friends and families to sponsor their efforts, and through online giving. Last year’s judges’ choice winner Barry Friedman brought in $3,000 by offering a webinar for every client and associate who contributed $50 to his campaign. Friedman turned down Baker’s invitation several times before agreeing to take part.

“I loved every minute of it,” he said.

Rodney Bagget, choir director at Nevada Union is happy to be doing his part to support the center. The choir has opened for several center performances, including Amy Grant. “They do an amazing job booking outstanding musicians and artists, most of which we would have to travel to Sacramento and the Bay Area to see,” he said. “They are also wonderful at supporting and highlighting local artists.”

The star/amateur dancers range in backgrounds from radio hosts and health care professionals to law enforcement and professional athletes. The lineup is comprised of Baggett, Janet Peake, Heidi Hall, Debbie Plass, Dan Taliaferro, Buzz Crouch, Jeff Pettitt, Victoria LaFont, Jim Hemig, Colin Nelson, and Tina Basich.

“Dancing With Our Stars is wonderful because it complements our mission,” Baker said. “It engages people in the arts that are not necessarily in the arts — police officers, councilmembers, teachers. It also celebrates our local celebrities. In our community the celebrities are the teachers, officers, people who work at the bank – people who make this community what it is.”

Awards are given for best fundraiser, audience choice, and judges’ choice. Judges previously gave scores on their overall impression of the dance. This year the scores will be broken down by each judges’ specialty. The three judges— Tresa Honaker, Lorraine Gervais and Steve Hytner — will judge on choreography, costume, and overall performance, respectively.

Also new this year is a pre-performance red carpet event, where stars, dancers, and guests will bask in the glow of celebrity prior to entering the Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

For more information, see: http://thecenterforthearts.org/dancing-with-our-stars-2015/or visit the Center for the Arts box office, 314 W. Main St.,Grass Valley, in person or by phone at 530-274-8384.

Katrina Paz is a freelance writer in Grass Valley.

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