By Garrett Estrada
The first ever “Dancing with the White Pine All Stars” drew in a high school gymnasium-filling crowd on April 4 thanks to spirited dances by local community members and the Utah Ballroom Dance Company. Six local amateur dancers competed through themed dance routines in front of the large crowd and in front of a three-member judging panel.
Andy Bath, who performed a quick-stepping “swing” dance, was crowned winner by a close audience vote.
Dressed in a full white old-timey Navy man getup, Bath’s performance drew a near perfect score of 29 from the panel of judges. He beat out country two-steppin’ Shawna Thiel by four votes.
“I was just hoping I wasn’t going to drop my fabulous partner,” Bath said of how he felt about dancing in front of such an audience. “It was crazy, the tricks were a lot of fun.”
Jamie Brunson of the Bristlecone Arts Council said she went “out on a limb” when pitching the idea to bring the production to Ely. The nonprofit organization voted that they would be willing put on the show as long as they could recoup at least half of the estimated $9,000 budget.
Brunson’s fears about show’s cost were put to rest when she had to print a second round of tickets just to meet the high demand. Upon head count at the show, more than 400 people were in attendance, not including those who bought tickets and didn’t show.
While that number should put the council in the green overall on the event financially, Brunson said the real success was putting something fun on for the community and having such a strong turnout of support.
“It took a lot of guts to do this but all of our hard work paid off,” Brunson said, who worked with the dance company for over three months to turn the idea into a reality. “Both our local stars and the professional dancers were fabulous.”
The production, which is based on the “Dancing With the Stars” television show, was produced by the Utah Ballroom Dance Company. Six White Pine County residents, including White Pine High School Principal Adam Young, were chosen to train with one of the professional dancers for a week on a particular dance before performing on April 4.
The UBDC Director Mark Lowes said he was “blown away” by the crowd and the atmosphere of those in attendance.
“It was fantastic. The support from the community was outstanding,” Lowes said.
While the votes were tallied, the professional dancers performed numbers from their award-winning dance production “Hollywood.”
And while the professionals dazzled with the flashiest moves of the night, it was performances like that of Math Professor at Great Basin College Frank Daniels version of the “foxtrot” that made brought those in the bleachers and VIP seating to their feet.
“It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” Daniels said after he finished. “Plus I knew my students would be watching and if I didn’t dance well I would get a bad teacher evaluation.”