‘Stars’ reveal why they dance in fundraiser for Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts | TheUnion.com

‘Stars’ reveal why they dance in fundraiser for Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts

Dance pros and eleven celebrity dancers work with the support of artistic director George Jayne to perform for the community and raise money for The Center in the Dancing with Our Stars competition on Aug. 23 at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Grass Valley.
Submitted photo |


WHO: The Center for the Arts presents second Annual Dancing with Our Stars Competition

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 23, 8 p.m.

WHERE: Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Hall, 255 S.Auburn St., Grass Valley

TICKETS: $30 General Admission, $65 Reserved Floor Seating. The Center Box Office - 530-274-8384, ext 14; BriarPatch Co-op Community Market - 530-272-5333; and online at http://www.thecenterforthearts.org.

ONINE: thecenterforthearts.org/dancing-with-our-stars, http://www.razoo.com/team/Dancing-With-Our-Stars-2

Did you ever wonder what would possess a regular everyday person to decide to get up in front of 700 friends, family members and complete strangers and do something brand new and out of their comfort zone?

We asked the participants of the second annual Dancing With Our Stars fundraiser for The Center for the Arts that very question.

“Initially, I run and hide from any invitation that is outside my comfort zone,” said Barry Friedman. “This one was no different. I didn’t reply to the emails for a few days, was vague when I did reply, made unreasonable demands. Then that part of me that lives for challenges took over and I jumped in with both feet!”

“I was at the event last year,” said Michelle Litton Ogaidi. “It was so fun and I was caught in the moment. I Facebooked Julie then and there and said, ‘I would dance next year!’ I am doing it as a thanks to the student-oriented programs the Center offers.”

It was much easier to convince participants after the amazing success of last year’s inaugural show, organizers said. Last year’s event raised more than $40,000 for the Center for the Arts general fund with a portion specifically earmarked for the purchase of a lift to create disabled access to the main stage and sound board.

“A fundraiser of this size is important to the Center because ticket sales alone cannot cover the expense of managing and operating a venue and presenting 150 plus events a year,” Executive Director Julie Baker said.

“An event like this helps pay for our free and low-cost programs such as the Community Music Jam, Open Studios and education programs such as The Secret Life of Bees coming in December.

“What makes this fundraiser stand out from the pack is the way that it includes such a diverse group of community members and challenges them to work together over months in the hopes of taking home one of the coveted mirror ball trophies,” Baker added.

“It gives community members a chance to be artists which delivers on our mission of bringing art into lives in a participatory fashion.”

“I love that this event reaches all corners of the community and brings people out to watch,” said dance pro Marni Marshall. “It is a rare thing that a dance event has the audience with the enthusiasm of a sporting event, and this event has that energy, as all friends and family come out to support.”

There are three ways to win. A trophy will go home with the top fundraising couple, the audience’s favorite dance team and the grand prize and title of 2014 Dance Champions is awarded to the judges’ choice.

All three judges from last year’s event will return — Lorraine Gervais, Tresa Honaker, and actor and comedian Steve Hytner. Hytner was the most controversial judge last year, as playing the role of a Simon Cowell does not always make you friends.

“The art of dance, to me, is as much about the discipline as it is about the artistry,” Hytner said. “That’s why it came as no surprise to me that I was asked to pass judgment on others. I will critique with the same keen eye as I did last year … That being said, I hope my big mouth doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Julie Baker noted, “It’s important to remember this event is about having fun, getting people out of their comfort zones, bringing the community together and supporting the Center for the Arts, your nonprofit performing arts center with a mission to promote and present the literary, visual and performing arts for the enrichment of our community.”

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