The third annual Dancing with the Wrentham Stars delivered an evening of excitement and fun as six local celebrities, along with their professional dance partners, put on a show to remember. When the evening ended, Adam Moon (pictured) was crowned the winner by the judges, and Jill Bell took home the top honor as the people’s choice winner for being the star who raised the most money. Collectively, the six stars brought in over $72,000.
The community themed night took place in a newly renovated Lake Pearl Luciano's facility which looked spectacular. With the smell of fresh paint still in the air, first year host, and former DWTWS winner, Manny Barros kept the night moving as one star after the other wowed the 540 members of the audience.
Nicky’s waitress Paula Duduch was the first to hit the dance floor along with her professional dance partner Lewis Inman. With the support of her family and members of the Holly Club, the charity she represented, Duduch performed elegantly, floating across the dance floor to Taylor Swift’s Blank Space.
The second couple on the dance floor was Massachusetts National Guard Signal Support System Specialist Bryan Moore and his Showcase Dance Production instructor Kellcie Teel. The contemporary performance told a romantic tale between a soldier and the love of his life. The beautiful slow tempo number was a “mix of sweet and hot,” according to judge Loral Sims, owner of Loral Sims School of Dance in Plainville.
Moore was dancing for American Legion Post 225 and serves as its Junior Vice Commander received a heartfelt standing ovation from the crowd after judge Ed Goddard thanked him for his military service.
If there was an award for the most clever song selection, it would have gone to King Philip Middle School math teacher Jenna Allen for dancing to Problem by Ariana Grande. Starting behind a screen and a classroom easel featuring a graph and equations, Allen delivered a high energy performance with her dance pro Jan Ondrias. Allen, dancing for Friends of Wrentham, earned the respect of the judges for her energy and quick feet.
Sims said she made it look easy and loved the props and her footwork.
After an intermission that allowed audience members to strut their stuff on the dance floor, the competition continued when Wrentham’s Jill Bell (pictured), a fitness instructor at Hockomock YMCA, taking center stage with Petr Dubovsky of Savaria Dance Studio. Dancing for Wrentham Senior Center and the YMCA, Bell with fiery red streaks in her hair, and Dubovsky with striking platinum hair, commanded the dance floor to Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life.
The judges and crowd were completely blown away. Sims said the performance was one of the best in the three year history of DWTWS.
The night took on a country theme as JD Dowden 2-stepped his way around the dance floor with first year DWTWS pro Kim Harris-Vasickova from Savaria Dance Studio. Dowden, representing Wrentham Food Pantry, delivered a John Wayne-esque performance confidently leading his partner. Sims said he did a fantastic job while Goddard said “he really sold” the performance.
The competition ended with Adam Moon’s disco meets gym class performance. Moon, an elementary physical education teacher at Wrentham Public Schools, performed with Dance & Beyond owner Meaghan Valego. The two, decked out in sparkling pink workout gear, combined humor and energy to deliver a performance that brought the crowd to its feet. Moon, dancing for Wrentham Elementary School Trust, said he felt pretty good during the performance. Moon’s wife, sixth grade teacher Jennifer Moon, added, “Anyone who can wear that outfit should win.”
State Senator Richard Ross, the third judge on the panel, said in reference to Moon’s wife, “I can’t believe she is married to an animal like you.”
All six stars and their partners returned to the dance floor for a fun group number set to Pitbull’s Fireball.
Ten Weeks to Prepare
Getting to the Lake Pearl dance floor took weeks of preparation. Not only do the stars need to juggle their day jobs, they also had to learn two dance routines, raise thousands of dollars for their respective charities and, in some cases, develop the confidence to step out in front of an audience of hundreds. "The hardest part for the new star is to learn a dance routine in only three months and then perform it in front of hundreds of people," says Dubovsky, who has been involved with the event from the beginning. "It is important to make the star feel comfortable with both the music and the routine."
Dubovsky adds the stars need to develop trust with the professional dance partner, quickly learn dance basics, and then work on the routine. "Once the fundamentals are down, it’s just practice, practice, practice,” he says. “At the end of the day, it is the star who should get all the credit because they have put in the time and work on perfecting their performance.”
For some of the dancers, learning the steps is the easy part. Turning those series of steps into a performance is another challenge altogether. There is an element of acting and bringing emotion to the dance that is needed in order to make the routine come alive. "Anyone can get out on a dance floor and do some steps,” explains second year DWTWS dance professional Teel. “What makes a great dancer is their passion and the way they emote and make the audience believe their story.”
While the stars are learning to dance, they’re also working hard to raise funds for the charities they represent. In the three years of the charity event, over $200,000 has been raised, with over $72,000 going to six local charities this year.
Being involved has been welcomed and impactful for the different charities benefiting from DWTWS. Raising needed funds has been important but the event also elevates the profile of the local non-profits.
For Friends of Wremtham, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of the residents of Wrentham Developmental Center, DWTWS has helped provide much needed resources and strengthen its ties with the community. Friends has used funds raised through the dancing event to purchase specialized handicapped accessible vans and exercise equipment. Officials with the charity explain the funds raised are extremely important, but DWTWS provides a special opportunity for the residents of Wrentham Developmental Center to be part of a community event. The residents are able to make connections, build relationships, break down barriers and foster a sense of community, family, and love.
The Holly Club president Donna Canavan also believes DWTWS provides more than just the benefit of funds. It also brings greater awareness to their organization and its work. “Our involvement with the DWTWS has enabled the Holly Club to gain more visibility in the community and allowed us to continue to support and donate to more town programs as well as take on new projects such as the new circulation desk countertops at Fiske Library,” Canavan says.
For the first time Wrentham Senior Center is involved through its connection with the Hockomock YMCA. Janet Angelico, Director of Wrentham Senior Center, is thrilled be a part of the event. The funds raised will help pay for programs at the Senior Center and the YMCA focused on healthy lifestyles. “We are very grateful to the YMCA and Wrentham Community Events (the organizers of DWTWS) for choosing us,” she says.
The Wrentham Food Pantry echoed the gratitude. Diana Eastty with the Pantry explains that both the need in the Wrentham community for pantry services and the cost of food is growing significantly. “The financial support comes at a time of increased need within our community, as well as spiraling food costs,” Eastty says.
Like the other charities, Eastty believes the spotlight DWTWS shines on Wrentham Food Pantry has an impact beyond the night of the competition. “The additional exposure this event provides to the Food Pantry mission is invaluable and has a lasting effect throughout the year,” she says.
As in the past, food donations were collected for the pantry at the event.
Wrentham Elementary School Trust is another repeat charity and is able to use money raised to fund educational grants used at Wrentham Public Schools. The grants enrich the programs at the school that are not funded by its budget. “'WEST is thrilled to be partnered up once again with DWTWS giving us an opportunity to reach beyond our school community,” explains Deirdre Foley, WEST president. “Every dollar raised with this event will help to fund the 2016 teacher grant cycles which provide enriching educational programs to Wrentham's children helping to keep our school district competitive with our neighboring towns. WEST is also grateful to Adam Moon with his enthusiasm and dedication to WPS.”
The night ended with friends and neighbors dancing the night away reveling in the good feelings and excitement DWTWS delivers year after year.