CIVIC LEADERS DANCE FOR A GOOD CAUSE
For many, the idea of dancing on stage at the Palace Theatre could only happen after downing a few beers. Luckily, for Norwalk resident Meri Wick, who will be kicking up her heels at Curtain Call's Dancing with the Stars on May 19 at the Palace Theatre Stamford, she works for Heineken! But her determination and drive to win will take her through the performance, not her company's beverages!
For a natural and active athlete like Wayne DeVingo (also of Norwalk) taking on the challenge of competitive dancing wasn't too much of a stretch. After all, he's used to being on his feet all day long as owner of Salon Wayne in Stamford.
What these two have in common with the nine other local volunteer Star Dancers is a desire to give back to their community. And helping Stamford's longest-running and only year 'round nonprofit producing theatre - Curtain Call - raise much needed funds is just one of giving back. Another dancer who is no stranger to helping others is Stamford professional firefighter Nick Tamburro - who admittedly has no experience whatsoever in dancing, "but is happy to help such a great organization."
For the fifth year in a row, Curtain Call is hosting this fundraiser in hopes of introducing new families to the theatre company while also raising funds through a somewhat non-traditional way. "We really wanted something different than the usual "rubber chicken event," said co-chair for the event, Jami Sherwood. She and her fellow co-chair Julia Frisoli were both volunteer Star Dancers in Curtain Call's first such event in 2008 and are great at helping calm the nerves of each year's volunteers.
Beyond helping Curtain Call, these volunteers are having fun and learning lots too. "The investment in my dance instructor may be the best therapy I have ever had! Every time, I leave a lesson I have an awakening about myself that is not surprising but yet affirming," said Mia Schipani, Vice President of Business Development, RMS Companies. Just how much they have learned about ballroom dancing will be on display the night of the event.
Each dancer has their own reasons for participating in this event. "One of the main reasons I chose to do this, outside my competitive nature and driving desire to make a fool of myself, is what Curtain call has meant to my nephew and the incredible positive force it has been in his life. I have seen him grow and come into his own, establishing new friendships and learning so much. I know this must be true for so many of the young people involved in the theater, so dancing is a small gesture to pay back my gratitude to Curtain Call," said Wick, who by day is Director, Sales Learning and Development Heineken USA.
As for the professional dancers, Lou Lopez of Stamford's Latin Moves Dance Studio has been with Curtain Call from the beginning and has won the Judges' Choice Award several times. "Lou has been a great supporter of Curtain Call for many years - long before we began hosting these events," Ursone said, "and we are thrilled to have him back with us this year.
Studio owner Christine Georgopulo said, "All of us at The Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich are so honored to be participating in Dancing with the Stars for Curtain Call. Dance is one of the universal languages and we believe in sharing the joy it brings with the community while being able to support this organization, thereby supporting the arts in general... it's a winning proposition for all."
In addition to the above volunteer Star Dancers, Karen Kelly, Associate Publisher, Moffly Media; Jimmy Romaniello, Owner, James Daniel Entertainment; Steven M. Wise, owner, Steven Wise Associates; Theresa Rogers Matthews, owner, Horseneck Wines; Jeffrey Selden, Managing Partner, Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning; Jeanne Hendrickson, Director of Finance, Perey Turnstiles, Inc.; and Lori Mercede have all been rehearsing their routines with professional instructors since late February. And each of them has contributed to our community through a variety of other events and organizations showing the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in Fairfield County.
Professional dancers Ted Thomas of New England Academy of Dance, Michael Powers of Arthur Murray of White Plains and Sarah Lee Michaels are returning this year and are joined by newcomers to this event: Jude Coraldi and Peter Hahn from Fred Astaire Dance Studio Norwalk; Kelly Butler, Angessa Hughmanick and Mayko Noriega from Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich; and Lazaro Chavez from Arthur Murray of White Plains.
The event will mimic the popular TV show in that there will be behind the scenes video footage of the couples in rehearsal in addition to live performances and commentary by a panel of judges that night. "The success of our past events has been due in great part to the dance professionals and their studios who volunteer their services to get these amateur volunteers up to speed," Ursone said. Judges for this year’s event are ABC-TV Senior Meteorologist Bill Evans, David Moore, Manager of the new Dance with Me studio in Stamford, and Maureen Pavia, former dance instructor and founder of Stamford Gives Back.
Tickets and sponsorships for the event start at $125. "The voting is a great way to get involved in the process," Ursone noted and it is a very important part of the fundraising. With the organization's oil and electric utility bills reaching over $60,000 this year, Curtain Call needs this event to help keep ticket prices down.
The cocktail hour, to be held at UConn Stamford, will feature a wide variety of top shelf food and drink provided by such area vendors as bartaco, Boulevard 18 Bistro & Wine Bar, Columbus Park Trattoria, Crystal Rock, LLC., The Capital Grille, David’s Soundview Catering, EOS greek cuisine, Heineken, Marcia Selden Catering, napa & co., Spazzio, Sushi Village, W.J. Deutsch and Sons, Ltd., and Zyr Vodka.
"Planning for this year's event started the day after we held our last event," said Sherwood. Her co-chair, Frisoli was a winner at the 2008 event. The event committee includes: Diane Arditti, Bob Callahan, Lynne Colatrella, Linda Jamshidian, Richard Levitt, Betsy Mercede, Tom Ormond, Robin Selden, and Jan Ursone. "Our board and a large group of amazing volunteers will make this event the premier special event in the area," Ursone said.
Curtain Call is the nonprofit, professionally-run, community-based theatre company in residence at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue in Stamford. Year-round productions and educational workshops are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre. Curtain Call was voted Fairfield County's BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP 2005 through 2012 in the Annual Readers' Poll of The Fairfield County Weekly as well as BEST LOCAL THEATRE by StamfordPlus magazine for the past five years. Curtain Call also received The Governor's Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism for 2011.
For more information on tickets, sponsorships and voting, call 203-329-8207 x10 or go online to www.curtaincallinc.com and click the Special Events tab.