By Courtney Widli
Coming together for a common cause and some casual community competition, cast members of the annual Dancing with the Rutland Stars met for the first time in person to celebrate the 2018 cast reveal at the Rutland Country Club. Seven local stars will prepare to trade in their professional work attire for sparkles and sequins for the annual light-hearted dance competition this October, marking the event’s eighth season.
The specialty fundraiser raises necessary funds for the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Southwest Region’s Kids on the Move and Pediatric Hi-Tech rehabilitation programs. Offering a broad range of health-care services to children and families throughout the region, the programs provide a complete continuum of care, from prenatal care to newborn home visits, pediatric rehabilitation services, and comprehensive case management for medically fragile children with hi-tech care needs.
“It’s all about the kids,” said DWTRS veteran Sam Ho, who specializes in Latin dance and serves as a Rutland Regional Medical Center ENT outside of the studio.
Having honed her craft in California before moving east, Ho believes dancing is a skill that should be enjoyed by all. She finds the annual fundraising event to be the perfect pairing of one of her favorite hobbies while better connecting the community with an important local organization.
“I love the instant connection you have with people through dance,” she said. “Whether it’s in your kitchen while washing dishes or up on stage in front of 800 people, everyone should dance.”
Dance pairings for season eight include co-owner and partner of Carpenter & Costin Matt Cataldo dancing with Tracy Tedesco, owner of Fitness Made Fun; executive director of Come Alive Outside Andy Paluch partnering with Shelia McCutcheon of Miss Jackie’s Studio of Dance; Rutland Herald reporter Gordon Dritschilo paired with Kylee Lawrence, owner of Studio 15; program manager of the Rutland County Community Justice Center at BROC, Lisa Ryan, dancing with Studio Fitness instructor Adam King; owner of Central Vermont Eye Care Praveen Kesheva and Sam Ho of Cobra Gymnastics and Dance Center performing together; Rutland Regional Medical Center’s Women’s & Children’s Unit manager Jody McIntosh dancing with Pyramid Holistic and Wellness Center founder William Kelley; and McClallen & Associates attorney Mike McClallen partnering with Katrina Werbinski, of Miss Lorraine’s School of Dance.
Modeled after the highly successful television show, professional dance partners will each choreograph an energized dance number the couples will then perform before a panel of guest judges. Each local star will spend nearly four months working with their paired professional dance instructor, participating in rigorous dance lessons and practices to prepare for the live performance.
“I don’t know how to dance,” joked participating star Mike McClallen.
Despite his self-proclaimed lack of rhythm and dance experience, McClallen was instantly up for the challenge of performing a newly learned dance routine in front of an audience filling all floors of the Paramount Theatre in the name of charity. Putting his nerves aside, he plans to put on a show-stopping performance on the big day, adding that his two biggest supporters, Landon and Caden, will be cheering him on throughout his entire experience.
“I obviously want to learn how to dance, but I also want to take away a greater appreciation of the programs we have to offer in this great community,” he said. “I’m going to give 110 percent at any dance we do.”
This year’s Dancing with the Rutland Stars event will take place at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, October 6, with tickets going on sale at the Paramount Box Office and online beginning on Saturday, September 1 at 10 a.m.
The anticipated sold-out show promises to bring yet another year of laughter, live entertainment, and life-changing funds for a local cause.
“The fact that people continue to put themselves out there to help us raise money is incredible,” explained event board of directors President Carrie Allen, adding that collectively the show has raised nearly $200,000 for pediatric programming in the region since its inception. “It’s a big production and always such an entertaining event. These children are the future of our community, and without fundraisers like this and the support of sponsors like ours, these programs would not exist.”