Local luminaries take to the floor for "Dancing with the Lakes Region Stars"
by Donna Rhodes
MEREDITH - Local nonprofit agencies had a real moment in the spotlight as local community stars and their dance instructors showed off some fancy footwork in their efforts to raise money for the charities in the third annual Dancing with the Lakes Region Stars at Inter-Lakes High School Friday night.
(Photo by Donna Rhodes: This year's champions of Dancing with the Lakes Region Stars, Kathleen Hill and Meagan Hiltz, took home trophies and a $3,286 check for the Keeping You, Me and Memories Alive Cancer Fund. The pair performed a lively jazz routine to take the title.)
Hosted by Mix 94.1 FM radio personalities Fred Caruso and Amy Bates, eight teams put their best foot forward this year to try to impress both the crowd and judges Eric Proulx, Lea King and Susan Amiss.
Each pair had just 12 hours of rehearsal time to prepare their two-to-three-minute dance routine and could decide on their own style of dance, music and costumes. They were then judged on creativity, technical ability, entertainment value, stage presence and audience involvement at the sold-out competition.
Kelly Arbogast of Doggonit Training and the New Hampshire Humane Society started the night with her professional dance partner, Shelvy Parker of Meredith. The two competed in the style of hip-hop dance to benefit Happy Tails Dog Park to the appropriate tune of "Who Let the Dogs Out."
Next up was Jeanne Claridge from Fashion Forward in Moultonborough and her partner Paul Langley, owner of Starry Night Dance Studio in Laconia. The pair got into the style of Swing Dance as they performed to the classic hit, "Love Shack," to raise money for the Meredith Got Lunch! Program.
They were followed by Rob and Christy. Christy Dunn, from Broadway North, had the opportunity to work with Rob Stewart, who owns All-Brite Cleaners in Gilford, and together they did a jazz performance to benefit the Salvation Army Fund of Laconia.
Sarah Gray of Body Covers Screen Printing and Embroidery danced contemporary style with instructor Joan Wiegers of both the Plymouth State University and New Hampton School dance programs. Caruso announced that Gray has also been a frequent participant in the annual Penguin Plunge at Hampton Beach each winter and asked her thoughts on preparations for Dancing with the Lakes Region Stars.
"Oh, this was much harder than the Penguin Plunge," Gray confessed.
The competition took a break twice during the evening when up and coming dancers took to the stage to entertain the full house at Inter-Lakes auditorium with talents of their own. Junior company dancers from Lakes Region Dance impressed everyone with their routine that incorporated flips on folding chairs and some very fancy footwork from the four young girls. Later in the evening, Lakes Region Dance senior company member, Hannah Crosby, a senior at ILHS, entertained the crowd with her solo performance to the song "New Wings."
Also performing in the competition were Chris White of the Chris White Band from Plymouth, and his dance instructor, Mary Lyons. The duo pulled a high score of 10-9-8 score from the judges as they danced Theatrical Jazz and Hip-Hop to "Thriller" in their fund-raising efforts for the Hunter School.
After a hot salsa dance to "I Carried a Watermelon," by Kitty Kiefer of New Beginnings Shelter and her partner Kristen Vachon, a professional jazzercise instructor, the judges were impressed by their performance.
"Really? Only 12 hours of training? That was too good," Proulx said. "Good use of props and your facial expressions kept me very entertained."
A ballroom swing dance to "It's a Man's World," as presented by Center Harbor firefighter Jared Douglas-McGrath and his professional partner/girlfriend Lauren Lemay, again amazed the crowd as Douglas-McGrath dipped and flipped Lemay in grand style. Their act drew comments on the wonderful chemistry the two shared and earned them a near perfect score of 28 as they competed for the Fallen Firefighters Fund.
But when the familiar strains of "Proud Mary" began, the crowd knew they were in for a special treat for the final performance.
Representing the Keeping You, Me and Memories Alive Cancer Fund, Kathleen Hill, a curriculum coordinator for Inter-Lakes School District, and her partner Meagan Hiltz of the Meredith Bay Dance Academy, set the floor on fire with their glittery outfits and hot jazz number.
"I personally think you guys should be on Broadway," was Amiss's comment. "Wigs, costumes, shoes- all perfect in my book."
The two women earned the only perfect score of the night.
"A perfect score doesn't mean they win though and this is where you get to vote for the charity you think should win tonight," said Caruso as the dancing came to an end.
Bags labeled with the name of all of the nonprofits sat on the edge of the stage and a final break allowed people to cast their votes by placing a dollar in the bag of the act they liked the best. Some even voted with checks made out for $20 or more to the charity dance act of their choice. The dollar amounts were then combined with the judge's score to determine the overall winner.
When the votes were tallied, Caruso announced that overall $6,573 was raised at this year's event for the eight nonprofit agencies represented in the competition. Each of them received $450 to aid them in their cause. The big winner of the night though, receiving a trophy and check for $3,286, was KYMMA for Hill and Hiltz's performance to the Tina Turner classic.
Judge Lea King said this was her second year in judging the competition and she loved being a part of it once again for 2012.
"I know a lot of these people who performed tonight and it's been fun to see them out of their element and having so much fun. It's a great event," she said.