Theme songs from iconic TV shows will set the tone for six competitive dance routines at the fifth annual Dancing with the Gorge Stars competition Friday evening.
The third practice session in the parish hall of St. Peter Catholic Church on Tuesday found local amateurs experimenting with moves under the guidance of their professional partners to the music of “Happy Days,” “Gilligan’s Island” and “I Dream of Jeannie,” among others.
“We’ve learned how to herd cats and have fun,” said Ronnie Smith, president of the Mid-Columbia Community Concert Association, of the event.
The Jan. 12 contest is a popular fundraiser for the nonprofit group that brings cultural enrichment experiences to five counties.
Six amateurs have been paired with pros from the Utah Ballroom Company for the program that begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of The Dalles High School, 220 E. 10th St.
Tickets are still available for $20 at Klindt’s Booksellers, Lines of Design or The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce office. They cost $25 at the door.
“We have created an environment almost like a cult and everyone just has a good time,” said Patti Blagg, vice president of the concert association.
She said past winners and contestants step up each year to help new recruits prepare for their moment in the spotlight.
This year, Blagg said there will be more professional backup dancers in acts and additional lighting and props.
“It’s more of a production than we’ve had before,” she said.
The local lineup for the 2018 annual event is:
• Mary Morehouse is the proud mother of three boys, owner of a bookkeeping and tax service and coach of a youth cheer league. She loves adventure, excitement and living on the edge, so she agreed to tackle the Quickstep in front of a large audience for the adrenaline rush. If nothing else, she believes her presence on stage will bring comedic relief. Her pro partner will be Seth Ward.
• Steve Wray is taking a break from duties as a cook at Mid-Columbia Medical Center to perform the Two-Step with pro partner Bailey Steffen. He is already a minor celebrity as one of Santa’s helpers each year at the hospital, so his debut on Friday is just the advancement of his public persona. He is hopeful that Santa’s magic will help him capture the mirror ball trophy.
• Wendy Wham, manager of Petite Provence, might be the grandmother of four, but she is tapping into her inner teenager to perform the Cha Cha with pro partner Bannon Frank. She is a huge fan of super heroes and will tap into their energy to stay upright and animated in a style of dance never tried before.
• Stan Fargher is an early morning DJ for Y102 Country radio and owner of Maupin Hardware Store. He is hoping to get his big break in show business – and reduce his commute time -- by wowing the crowd with his Swing moves. Big money is his end goal, although he’ll settle for the trophy. Steffen will also be his pro partner due to a family emergency that took one of the troupe members away.
• Ellie Webb wears many hats in her daily life. She’s a mom, real estate broker, assistant to her husband in a construction company, active in business development for their consulting firm, and family chauffer. She believes that already being on the move gives her an advantage with the quick steps of the Salsa. Her pro partner is Alex Galvan.
• Joe Morales, is the owner of Blue Angel Handy Man Service and prides himself on his ability to fix anything, which he hopes comes in handy during a lively Polka with pro partner Heather Shinsil. Although he refers to himself as “Average Joe,” Morales is hoping to relive his glory days as a band member by showing that he still has what it takes on Friday.
Blagg said rehearsals began Jan. 7 at St. Mary’s Academy and and continue all week at one of the two venues until the performance. In five short days, she said the locals become polished and confident in their respective dances, or at least resigned to their fate.
Fourteen children – seven boys and seven girls – will open the show with their own dance routine. Included in the group are Morehouse’s three boys and Webb’s two girls.
Once the contestants have performed, 11 professionals take the stage for routines showcasing movie themes.
Picking the top amateur dancer will be judges Addie Case, general manager of Cousin’s Country Inn, Tonya Brumley, community affairs manager for NW Natural and Dean Dollarhide, agent for State Farm Insurance.
They have made it known to the contestants and other community members that they can be bribed.
DWTGS is sponsored in 2018 by The Springs at Mill Creek; Cousins Country Inn; Crestline Construction; The Dalles Disposal; David S. Perry, DDS, PC; Keilman Dental Clinic, PC; Rivermark Community Credit Union; NW Natural, Spooky’s and Avalon Biossage.