Dancing with the Gorge Stars

Six local dancers, three men and three women, will compete to reign supreme in the Gorge as “Dancing with the Gorge Stars” takes the stage at The Dalles High School 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10.

Tickets for the popular show, which features Utah Ballroom Dancing Company professionals paired with local contestants, are $20 prepaid or $25 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Klindt’s Booksellers and The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce office, or call 541-298-4352 or 541-386-3055. More information also available at www.mccca.info.

In addition to the dance contestants, who include Laura Johnson, Mimi McDonell and Mary Davis on the women’s side and Scott Stephenson, Brian Lauterbach and Tyler Beane Kelly on the men’s, this year’s show will open with a group of young dancers, as well as a dance featuring prior contestants, said event organizer Patti Blagg.

Fourteen kids, ages 11 to 16, will open the show, Blagg said. They also work with the professional dancers from the Utah Ballroom Dancing Company, and will dance to the song “Disco Fever.”

Fourteen past contestants will also take the stage with a group dance routine, to the song “Fireball.”

But front and center will be the six local contestants. Over the preceding week, each  local contestant will work five hours with their professional dance partner. “They know their routine in just five hours,” said Blagg. “These young people really know how to teach.” The songs are choreographed when the ballroom company team arrives, but are then adjusted to suit the needs and abilities of the local dancer. Costumes for each dance are provided as well.

The program, based on a popular television dance competition, is now in its seventh year in The Dalles and is a fundraiser for the Mid-Columbia Community Concert Association, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that brings five high-caliber performances to the region each year.

Blagg said the association serves Klickitat and Scamania counties in Washington, as well as Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties in Oregon. “We bring in five shows per year, and take the artists around to the schools as well,” she said. And if the performers’ schedule is tight, limiting their ability to get to the outlying areas, the association will arrange to have kids bused in for an extra performance.

“We’ve been in existence, doing this, since the 1930s,” Blagg added.

For this year’s competition, contestants will perform a single swing to “Johnny B. Good,” a country mix to the song “Brand New Girlfriend,” a merengue to “Shake Seniora,” Salsa to “I want to dance with somebody,” Cha Cha to “Welcome to the Jungle” and a disco to “Car Wash.”

Following the contestants in the second half of the show, the professional dancers will perform a dance in a variety of styles.

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