By JORDAN SCHULTZ
On the evening of Sept. 26, Fredericksburg residents headed to Dodd Auditorium at the University of Mary Washington to watch members of the community dance and ultimately, raise money for the UMW performing arts scholarship.
As the lights dimmed, light reflected from the mirror ball hanging from the ceiling and the excited energy in the room was palpable. The celebrity host and master of the ceremony, Patrick A’Hearn, announced that the third annual show was sold out.
Members of all ages from the local community attended, kids and grandparents could be seen enjoying the show and cheering on their favorite contestant. Some audience members even brought glow sticks and brightly colored signs.
To anyone who has ever watched ABC’s television show, “Dancing with the Stars,” UMW’s event seemed familiar. The judging panel consisted of three judges who complimented and critiqued the evening’s routines. They also gave the contestants, tips for future performances.
The stars spent several months practicing their routines with their partners in anticipation of bringing home the coveted trophy.
Among them was UMW’s Cedric Rucker, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life at UMW.
After months of practicing, Rucker performed a 1940’s inspired continental foxtrot dressed as a sailor. He said that he had been practicing his dancing since the spring, and originally thought that he would try a swing dance. He even began to prepare for the competition by joining a swing dance club and practicing with them. However, once he chose the music they would be dancing to, his dance evolved into a continental foxtrot.
Rucker said that his favorite part was “finishing and not falling.” It was his first time ballroom dancing, although he said that he loves to dance.
Vanessa Borg, senior theater major, said that Rucker’s dance was her favorite and that the show was enjoyable. “[The stars] were really entertaining and it’s great of them to volunteer so much of their time so that students could be awarded scholarships.”
Another contestant, Amanda Talbert, a public affairs coordinator for Geico, performed first and danced a West Coast Swing. She said that her favorite dance move was the lindy whip because she got to spin and twirl around. Talbert also saidthat she really enjoyed learning her routine and that she learned that she was stronger than she had previously thought.
During the champagne reception, which was held at the Chandler Ballroom, it was announced that enough money had been raised from the event to create a third scholarship to aid performing art students.
President Hurley and his wife, Rose, were also in attendance. Hurley said that his favorite part of the evening was Jon Van Zandt, president of Van Zandt Restorations, dancing the American Tango to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.
Hurley joking added that it wasn’t hard to get Dean Rucker to be a part of it of the event.
At the end of the night, the grand winner of the mirror ball trophy was Howard Heppe, a local surgeon from Plastic Surgery Services of Fredericksburg.
He also won an award for best posture.
The people’s choice winner, as well as best rhythm, was Rozzi Whitescarver, a retired elementary school teacher and dance instructor. Rucker won a mirror ball for best costume, to the delight of the audience.