Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Brave New Dancers

// Tacoma's Dancing With the Stars brought out local celebs to help raise funds for Tacoma Musical Playhouse

The stars aligned in Tacoma Nov. 6 for Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s (TMP) second annual fundraiser that puts local celebrities in the spotlight.

Planners say that a bad economy may be to blame for the smaller turnout than last year, but the energy and intensity was still high for participants and audiences at 2010’s Dancing with the Tacoma Stars.

Based off of ABC’s hit television show “Dancing With The Stars,” Tacoma’s version takes a handful of well-known locals – the Tacoma “stars” – and matches them up with professional ballroom dancers for a fun and feisty competition finale after weeks of training.

Sarah Idstrom, a Tacoma Arts Commissioner, was one of the “stars” asked to participate, along with Mayor Marilyn Strickland, News Tribune sports writer John McGrath and business owners Patricia Lecy-Davis and husband Thane, to name a few.

“I have absolutely no dance experience but I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone,” Idstrom said before the competition, with her professional dance partner Mario Tapia.

“She picked it up quite well,” Tapia said. “She has rhythm, so that helps out a lot.”

McGrath was another of the “star” line-up that pretty much put on his dancing shoes for the first time after he was asked to participate.

“I didn’t even dance at my wedding,” he said minutes before the show. “I feel like I’m in college – I’ve got the 7:40 (a.m.) final and I’m still up studying at 5:30.”

Neither Idstrom or McGrath took home the winning prize at the end of the night, after rounds of foxtrots, tangos, waltzes, cha-chas and jives, but the competition was close.

“The women – they literally had a one-point spread between scores of 8 and 9. It was really, really tight,” Director of Development Diana George said.

Lecy-Davis came out on top with the winning point of 9 for the female votes, and Ed McGuire, a retired land-use attorney and planner, took the prize for his waltz.

Jana Wennstrom of Tacoma Arts Museum broke a tie in the bidding for the “People’s Choice Award” with her zesty salsa moves.

“I think it’s fabulous that so many people put so much time and effort into this event. It’s a big commitment for a good cause. I hope to see it continue – it’s a blast,” said Emily Reiter, 2009 best female dancer who emceed this year’s event.

In 2009, the event put on by Studio 6 Ballroom and TMP raised $18,000 to be used for scholarships, youth and senior theatrical programming, and outreach at the community theater. After all was said and done with this year’s event, TMP came out with a fraction of the funds – topping out at 116 guests and just over $8,000 in donations, which means this could be the last year of Dancing With the Tacoma Stars’ short-lived tradition.

George said programming at TMP would not be tremendously impacted by the outcome of this fundraiser, but that the board will have to re-evaluate whether or not they will put the event on again next year.

“The success of this event is counted more in relationships built within our community than just a dollar figure. We have developed long-lasting ties to other arts organizations, to city and county government, to corporations in our area and to many small business owners … who are striving to overcome the challenges of today’s economy,” George said, noting the help from local businesses Savi Day Spa, Embellish Multispace Salon, Nina Seattle Costumes, DreamMedium AV and Studio 6 Ballroom. “To Tacoma Musical Playhouse, this benefit is about enriching lives by introducing another art form – ballroom dance – which is very closely related to musical theater.”



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