It was an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd that enjoyed the fancy footwork of 10 dance teams as the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust presented “Dancing for the Arts, Take IV.” The event was held May 16 at Mayo Civic Center.
Proceeds totaled $100,000 and will fund local youth arts education programs. In 2014, 14 organizations — including Children’s Dance Theatre, History Center of Olmsted County and Sing Out Loud — received grants funded by Dancing for the Arts, Take III.
Bari Amadio, chief executive officer of the trust, said tickets sold out weeks before the event.
“This is a FUNraiser unlike any other. There’s an energy here,” she said. “The dancers really get into it. The credit goes to them, as it’s out of their comfort zone. There’s such camaraderie among the dancers. Everyone is pulling for everyone else.”
Each of the 10 teams was comprised of a local celebrity paired with a professional dancer. Performances were evaluated by a panel of three judges — John Wade, Lisa Clarke and Brad Jones.
“Judging is a lot less stressful than dancing,” said Clarke, who was serving in her second year as judge. Clarke danced the foxtrot during the first Dancing for the Arts.
“I’m excited for all the dancers. They’ve put so much time and energy — as well as blood, sweat and tears — into this night,” she said.
“This was an incredible experience,” said Johnny Mango, who danced the swing with his partner, Danika Dahl. “I’m planning to take lessons with my wife after this.”
Mango said he enjoyed the weekly dance lessons, and the 45-minute practices went by so quickly.
“It was a chance to turn off the phones and focus on the dance,” he said.
“He caught on very quickly,” Dahl added. “I’m happy to have him as my partner.”
“I’m super excited to be here tonight,” said Leslie McClellon, president of Rochester Community and Technical College. “I have a whole cheering squad here, including my mother and my daughter.”
McClellon had a very special pre-performance phone call that gave her a little extra confidence.
“I got a lesson on how to do the twist from Chubby Checker himself!” she said.
McClellon and her partner, Jimmy Dillon, won the Judges Choice trophy.
Attendee Ginny Boyum, along with her husband Kirk and Dr. Alex and Shawn Herzog, said, “We came to cheer Leslie on and we want to support the arts, which provide a great benefit for youth. The three Rs are important, but participating in the arts produces well-rounded students. It opens up their world to so much.”
“That’s what employers are looking for,” added Alex Herzog. “Students that have had those experiences, such as art and music, which have expanded their horizons.”
Celebrity dancer Dr. Bassem Elhassan paired with April Dahl in a performance of the Argentine tango. They won the “Dancing for the Arts” trophy.
“I love dancing,” Elhassan said. “Dancing makes everyone happier. Puts people in good spirits, energized.”
“We are here supporting Dr. Elhassan tonight. We heard he was a contestant,” said Velinda Victoria, who attended with Valentine Rios, Soledad Rios, and Lillian Cortes.
Also attending in support of Dr. Elhassan were Dave Williams and Susan Bold. Williams said they traveled from the Twin Cities to attend the event.
“It’s well worth it,” he added. “He’s a fabulous person.”
Attendees Karen and Mark Golberg said they enjoy watching “Dancing with the Stars” on television and were enjoying a fun night out.
“We enjoy dancing to the music of the 1950s,” Mark said. “We’ve won some dance contests.”
“I think it’s very important to expose kids to different art and music experiences,” said Jennifer Hand, who was attending with a group of her friends for a ladies night out.
“I have three children and they have been in Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestra, Children’s Dance Theatre and violin and piano lessons,” she said. “It’s important to support the arts.”
According to its mission, the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust is enriching the quality of life in the Rochester area by celebrating, promoting and advocating for the arts and humanities.
For more information, visit www.RochesterMNArts.com.
On July 7, we’ll feature Power of the Purse, a fundraiser for United Way of Olmsted County.