The fifth edition of Dancing for the Arts, to be held April 16, has taken on a more competitive edge.
Besides the annual competition among local celebrity dancers paired with professionals, this year’s event features a red team and a blue team of previous celebrity participants in what’s starting to sound like the dance version of a cage match.
“We’re going to beat them like a drum,” said Bari Amadio, captain of the red team.
“We’ll see,” said Brad Jones, captain of the blue team.
It’s all for a good cause, of course. Dancing for the Arts raises operating funds for Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust program, with a portion of the proceeds distributed to youth arts organizations. Last year, the event raised $100,000, with $29,000 going to 15 local youth arts programs.
“In the end, it’s a fund-raising competition,” Jones said.
So far, that fund-raising is off to a good start. “We’ve sold more tickets this year,” said Amadio, who organizes the event as CEO of the Trust. That means 500 people will be in the audience at the Mayo Civic Center Exhibit Hall to enjoy dinner and dessert, watch the dancers, and then try out the dance floor themselves at the end of the evening. In addition to ticket sales, funds are raised by the celebrity dancers.
Here’s a look at Dancing for the Arts V
- Julie Domaille, from Edina Realty
- Kathleen Harrington, chair of the Division of Policy and Government Relations, Mayo Clinic
- Mary Lieser, lead singer with Incognito
- Elizabeth Nida Obert, Post-Bulletin photographer
- Rachel Wick, KAAL-TV news anchor
- Dan Aquilar, president and CEO, Smart Home Innovations & Engineering Inc.
- Brandon Sampson, owner/co-founder of Limb Lab, and Six Mile Grove frontman
- Mark Sawyer, Mayo Clinic surgeon
- Loring Stead, Olmsted Medical Center surgeon
- Kevin Torgerson, Olmsted County sheriff
The professional dancers, all from Dahl Dance Center, are: Gary Dahl, Joseph Carey, James Geroux, Dominic Pandy, John Vitek, April Dahl, Meg McClure, Mallory McKay, Christine Miller and Julie Sobolewski.
The red team for the Emeritus Celebrity Dance Off consists of Sharon Gentling, Kay Hocker, Jaimi Stejskal, Bari Amadio, Johnny Mango, Gregory Stavrou, Larry Guse, Joseph Carey and Al Mannino. The blue team consists of Jenna Bowman, Melissa Brinkman, Leslie McClellon, JoAnn Stormer, Meg McClure, Steve Books, Brad Jones and Mitch Stevenson.
• Celebrity judges are John Wade, Lisa Clarke and Ed Hruska.
• Emcees are Laura Lee from KAAL-TV, and Rich Peterson, from KROC-AM.
• Trophies are awarded in three categories: Judges’ Choice, Dancing for the Arts Trophy for most money raised, and the special Team Award.
• Doors open at 5 p.m., dinner is served at 6 p.m. For dessert seating, the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Dinner tickets are $90, dessert tickets are $35, but they’re all sold out. To check on returns, call 507-424-0811.
• Dancing after the awards ceremony is to the music of the Fabulous Books Boys.
• You don’t have to attend to vote for a celebrity. Go to the event website and click on the pre-vote links.
Celebrity dancers conquer fear, have fun
Kay Hocker and Brad Jones know what it’s like just before taking the floor to perform in the annual Dancing for the Arts competition.
‘You think you know your routine, but when you get out there in the lights and in front of people, you’re far out of your comfort zone,” Jones said.
“You may initially have some fear, but you have to set your fear aside, and keep pushing through and have fun,” said Hocker.
Hocker, of Minnesota Public Radio, and Jones, of the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau, are both previous celebrity dancers in Dancing for the Arts, and they’re back this year as members of the red (Hocker) and blue (Jones) teams in the first Emeritus Celebrity Dance Off.
“I was a little nervous, yes,” Hocker said of her first appearance at Dancing for the Arts. “But I had great fun. I loved it.”
Jones danced the first year of Dancing for the Arts. “We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “Now, five years in, people know you’re not a professional dancer.”
For that reason, and because the event is a fund-raiser, audiences have been generous and positive toward the dancers. “Oh my goodness, they were very supportive,” Hocker said.
And for Hocker, it was a learning experience. “I found that I like to perform,” she said. “I don’t mind being on stage.”
Any tips for this year’s dancers?
“The biggest tip,” said Jones, “is to have fun and roll with it.”