Dance with the 'stars' this month

The West Michigan version of "Dancing With the Stars" has geared up for a sixth season with "stars" and professionals donning their dance shoes for the first group practice at Diane's School of Dance in Fruitport on Jan. 3.
Kelle Lynn
Feb 4, 2014

The annual event is put on by the Women's Division Chamber of Commerce in Muskegon. Since the show's inception in 2009, the organization has raised more than $311,000, and all proceeds benefit more than 30 Lakeshore-area food pantries. 

This year's performance dates are Feb. 20-22 at the Muskegon Harbor Holiday Inn.

Event co-chairwoman Mary Kendall devotes a lot of time giving to the community through various charities. The idea to turn her favorite show into a local charity came to her while watching the "Dancing With the Stars" TV show one night.

Kendall said she knew she had to get local dignitaries and people of interest on board in order for the show to be a success. The first person she asked said yes without hesitation, she said, and that was the inspiration she needed to move forward. 

Kendall said it isn't uncommon for many of her potential "community stars" to express their fear of dancing in front of a crowd. She gives everyone the same reply: "You will be stepping out of your comfort zone to do something worthwhile for the community." 

Every year, each of the six female and six male "stars" are matched with a dance professional to compete for a People's Choice, Best of Show and Critics' Choice awards. The show runs from Thursday through Saturday, with one matinee performance. Each couple chooses their own dance routine and costumes, and they attend group practices to learn an opening and closing number. 

Dr. Mary Ball of Spring Lake has been involved with the event as a pro dancer since its inception. As a child, she shunned dancing — but, in 1995, Ball decided to incorporate dance as part of her exercise regime. Now she is dancing as an amateur at a pro level. 

"It is like fireworks and pink clouds when I dance," Ball said. "It's cool that I get to do something I really like to do and someone else benefits." 

Kendall said she starts recruiting the "stars" and pros in the early summer. In November, they hold a meet-and-greet night for the dance couples to be paired for the first time.

Tickets for the performances are $40. They are available from Mary Kendall by calling 231-798-4244 or e-mailing kendallmarya@gmail.com.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

 

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