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Gorge stars step up for show

The opening act at Friday’s 2017 Dancing with the Gorge Stars performance will be The Dalles Dazzling Dancers, a group comprised of children and teens, ages 6 to 17. Pictured at a Tuesday practice session are: Top row – left to right, Xander Kirby, Annabelle Tesch, Kimberly Winters, Taylor Morehouse, Nathan Nanez, and Arianna Hinkley; middle row, Tyler Leigh, Sarah Winters, Nikki Allen, Molly Cochenour, and Dylan Hinkley; front row, Julian Morehouse, Catherine Nagamatsu, Kalina Anneker, and Mason Morehouse.


The opening act at Friday’s 2017 Dancing with the Gorge Stars performance will be The Dalles Dazzling Dancers, a group comprised of children and teens, ages 6 to 17. Pictured at a Tuesday practice session are: Top row – left to right, Xander Kirby, Annabelle Tesch, Kimberly Winters, Taylor Morehouse, Nathan Nanez, and Arianna Hinkley; middle row, Tyler Leigh, Sarah Winters, Nikki Allen, Molly Cochenour, and Dylan Hinkley; front row, Julian Morehouse, Catherine Nagamatsu, Kalina Anneker, and Mason Morehouse.



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Greg Johson, above, and professional dancer Grace Johnson practice the tango for their performance Friday night.

Practices have been underway for three evenings for six local contestants in the 2017 Dancing with the Gorge Stars competition that takes place Friday evening.

“It’s quite an adventure for everyone,” said organizer Patti Blagg of observing lessons being given by professional dancers with the Utah Ballroom Company to their amateur partners.

The event is a fundraiser for the Mid-Columbia Concert Association. Tickets are $25 at the door and $20 in advance at Klindt’s Booksellers, Lines of Design and The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce office.

Also getting ready for the 7 p.m. performance on Jan. 6 in The Dalles High School auditorium are 14 teens and children, ages 6 to 17, who will entertain to the song “Trouble” by Travis Tripp. The youth are billed as “The Dalles Dazzling Dancers” and will be the opening act.

The local lineup of dancers in the 2017 contest are:

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Molly Polehn Ott and Chris Rogowski, left, work on the cha-cha while Sherry DuFault and Anthony Whipple tackle a disco number. The 2017 Dancing with the Gorge Stars exhibition takes place Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in The Dalles High School auditorium.

• Molly Polehn Ott, owner of Riverenza Café who directs packing at Polehn Farms, will be performing a cha-cha, a rhythmic dance of Cuban origin. She will be partnered by professional Chris Rogowski.

• Wayne Schaffeld, an auto glazier in The Dalles and sales rep for Schaeffer Manufacturing, will pair with Marina Hattan for a swing dance. That lively style took off during the jazz era in the early part of the 20th century.

• Greg Johnson, co-owner of Renken Farms and a middle school science teacher at St. Mary’s Academy, is joined by Grace Johnson in executing a tango, a passionate dance with influences from the African and European cultures.

• Rena Hunley, a retired real estate broker/owner, is sliding with David Buckmaster into the Nightclub Two Step, a sultry dance to a mid-tempo ballad.

• Bill Ketchum, operations manager for Crestline Construction, is being assisted by Chloe Elstone in tackling the foxtrot, a traditional ballroom favorite.

• Sherry DuFault, who sells designer jewelry, serves as president of The Dalles Rotary Club and is on the chamber board, is groovin’ with Anthony Whipple to a disco number.

“There’s just something for everybody,” said Blagg of the eclectic theme.

Judging the performances will be Addie Case, general manager of Cousin’s Country Inn; Gene Parker, city attorney, and Steve Hudson, retired insurance agent.

Blagg said the one-hour practice sessions will continue through Thursday evening, and then a dress rehearsal takes place prior to Friday’s show.

The ballroom company provides costumes and lighting for the extravaganza.

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Wayne Schaffeld and Marina Hattan work through steps for a swing dance.

“I don’t know how they do it but they can get our contestants ready to perform in less than a week – their system is amazing,” said Blagg.

She said during intermission, audience members will cast ballots for their favorite contestant. Those votes will be tallied and calculated with the judges’ scores to determine who will take home the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy.

Last year, DWTGS netted about $10,000 for the association’s mission to support musical education programs in five counties.

Blagg said the evening full of merriment is a great way for area residents to beat the winter blues.



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