published Monday, May 30th, 2011

Professional dancer makes repeat appearance at Dancing with the Stars Chattanooga

Mark Ramsey, left, a local attorney, and instructor Ashley Cuticchia practice a swing dance for the "Dancing With the Stars Chattanooga" competition at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.
Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Mark Ramsey, left, a local attorney, and instructor Ashley Cuticchia practice a swing dance for the "Dancing With the Stars Chattanooga" competition at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press

IF YOU GO

• What: Partnership’s fourth annual Dancing with the Stars Chattanooga.

• When: 8 p.m. June 25 (VIP reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Mountain City Club).

• Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

• Admission: $21 to $125, VIP tickets available.

• Phone: 697-3807.

• Website: www.dancingwiththestarschattanooga.com.


2011 CELEBRITY DANCERS

• Jimmy Adams, owner of interior design firm Nell’s

• Rhonda Catanzaro, field representative for Tennessee Education Association

• Robin Derryberry, president of Derryberry PR

• Wade Hinton, corporate counsel for Volkswagen Group of America

• Sara Mingus, owner/director of North Shore Yoga

• Mark Ramsey, attorney/partner at Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams

• Stephen Ratterman, private client relationship manager at First Tennessee Bank

• Tahnika Rodriguez, senior adviser at Tennessee Valley Authority


WHAT PREVIOUS DANCING WITH THE STARS CHATTANOOGA WINNERS SAY

“Dancing With the Stars [Chattanooga] was a great experience. Learning how to dance was harder than I thought it was going to be but so fun. It was definitely the most fun I have had raising money, and I can’t wait to see everyone dance this year. [It] doesn’t hurt that [professional dancer] Maks [Chmerkovskiy] is coming back — can’t wait for that as well. It will be a must-see event.” — Alexis Bogo, 2010 winner

“I am still amazed at how many people bring it up to me even two years later. It was a great experience. Going into the process, I never dreamed how fun it would be. I tell people all the time that even if you do not know any of the dancers, you will definitely have a ball at this event.” — Jason Taylor, 2009 winner

“Competing in the event was completely and totally outside of my comfort zone. I was more nervous the day of the event than I have ever been for any other public event I have participated in. Thankfully, my instructor had infinite patience and helped me reach my goal of making it through without falling, laughing or requiring hospitalization. Certainly, I remain proud of the money I helped raise, which is why I did it in the first place.” — Frank Burke, 2008 winner

For the last 10 years, Maksim Chmerkovskiy has hoofed his way into the hearts of American TV viewers with his fancy footwork on “Dancing With the Stars.”

This season, the professional dancer, better known as “Maks,” and his celebrity partner, actress Kirstie Alley, were fan favorites, falling just short of the win. After scoring a perfect 30 for their last dance last week, Alley and Chmerkovskiy were runners-up to NFL star Hines Ward and his partner, Kym Johnson.

Though Season 12 of the ABC show is a wrap, Chattanooga’s version is just getting under way. Eight local celebrities are already in rehearsals preparing for the fourth annual competition, which will take place June 25 at the Tivoli Theatre.

After wowing the local crowd last year, Chmerkovskiy will return as special guest for the event, which benefits the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, a United Way agency that serves clients in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

Partnership spokeswoman Holly Ashley said Chmerkovskiy will dance “three sizzling routines.”

More than 800 people attended the 2010 competition, she said. In addition to money raised by the contestants, Chmerkovskiy auctioned off two pairs of his own pants to support the Partnership.

“[There’s] no telling what he will do this year,” said Sandra Hollett, chief executive officer. “Everyone will just have to attend and see.”

Each contestant is paired with a professional dancer from the local Fred Astaire Dance Studio. They rehearse their routines in 15 or more dance lessons spanning about two months, according to Ashley.

Like the TV victor, the local winner receives a mirror-ball trophy. Voting is by donation and will take place online (www.dancingwiththestarschattanooga.com) until midnight June 24. Guests will also get to vote the night of the performance based on the dancers’ performances and showmanship.

Proceeds will be given to each dancer’s favorite program at the Partnership.

“Not only is this the Chattanooga event of the year for three years running, this fundraiser supports Partnership’s work with 74,000 of our neighbors in need, each year providing real help and real hope,” said Hollett. “Whether the person is a victim of domestic violence seeking safety or a deaf child who needs an interpreter for a medical appointment, Partnership is there 24/7/365.”

Chairing the event are Alexis Bogo and Lynda Hood. Hood won last year’s People’s Choice Award (based on online votes). She said in a news release that the programs of the Partnership reach out to the disenfranchised citizens in this area.

“We never know when someone we know will find themselves in need of the services provided by the Partnership,” she said.

Celebrity contestant Mark Ramsey, a local attorney, said Bogo and Hood encouraged his participation.

“When it’s for a good cause and you combine that with fun, it’s a good deal,” he said.

Though Ramsey said he likes to dance, particularly shag dancing, he has never had formal training and doesn’t expect the rehearsals to work miracles.

“I’m not learning to dance. I’m learning the choreography of ‘this’ dance,” he said. “I’m doing things I never thought I could do. We’re doing tricks that are kind of showy and incorporating some of my favorite moves.”

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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