A feminine ‘touch of class’ | NevadaAppeal.com

A feminine ‘touch of class’

Compiled by Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Stefanie Hanks
Photos by Forever Keeps Photography |

Lights, camera and dancing.

The action and excitement of Fallon’s own Dancing with the Stars is ready to put one and then the other foot forward on April 9 at 7 p.m. at the Churchill County High School gym.

As with previous competition, 10 local celebrity dancers — five men and five women — will be matched with 10 high-school students who bring a wealth of toe-tapping experience to the floor.

Today, the LVN looks at the female dancers, and on Wednesday, the spotlight will be on the male dancers.

StEFanie Hanks

Stefanie Hanks, who prefers the nickname of “Clowning “Around” Hanks, has lived in Fallon since she was 12 years old.

Competing in Dancing with the Stars is a dream.

“I have always entertained the idea of performing,” she said. “Now I wonder what in the world I was thinking. It is a lot harder than it looks. I had all kinds of stunts and ideas for the routine when they asked me to perform; now, I am just trying not to trip over my own feet!”

As one of the dancers in this year’s Dancing with the Stars, Hanks enjoys dancing, first as a professional audience member and second as a mother.

“My daughter has performed the last four years, and I enjoy this event very much,” she said.

She considers her husband, Jay, the love of her life and her biggest influence.

“His hard working, never-give-up spirit drives me to be my best,” she said.

Hanks, the mother of two children, Makenna and Aspen, previously owned Jive N Java, but now she is a production scheduler at New Millennium.

Hanks said she enjoys hunting and camping with her family, but she also loves to sing and coordinate community events.

Hanks, though is prepared for her debut.

“I have watched my daughter perform for years and take so much pride in her beautiful spirit and talent,” Hanks said. “I am hoping this makes her proud of her momma. My son has been so sweet about me performing! Seeing him excited about it makes me thrilled to perform.”

Susan Robertson

When looking at her family’s philosophy for entering this year’s DWTS, Susan Roberson said there are two types of people in the world, athletes and band members.

“I am an athlete, and my husband is a band member,” she said, “We have five sons and let’s just say we are a very divided family.”

Robertson grew up on a Lovelock farm and during the summers, she drove a swather and helped with the leaf-cutter bees.

Her variety of experience from being a farmer’s daughter to playing sports to enjoying dance has given her the opportunity to dance in this year’s DWTS.

“The trouble I have found with dancing is that you have to move your feet one way, your hips another, but wait … that’s not all; you still have to move your arms and your head,” she explained. “I can usually get one or the other to move but not all of them at the same time or in the right direction. It really isn’t pretty.”

Robertson said her first dance experience occurred after she moved to Fallon in 1993 when her church was hosting a festival, and she was asked to attend and learn dancing and then teach the children a few steps on the floor.

“By the end of the day, I was sobbing hysterically in a fetal position in the corner of the room because if they said go left, I went right,” Robertson said. “I could not do it. I finally asked them if I could have another job. They gladly let me hand out water bottles to the kids. I was pretty good at that.”

Having been sucked into Dancing with the Stars against her will, Robertson said she has come to accept and acknowledge that dance is where these two worlds collide.

“A dancer is both an athlete and a band member … and I know this because every muscle in my body hurts. This also explains why we have so many dancers in our family. My partner Thomas is one of the best.”

Heather Sorensen

Born and raised in Provo, Utah, Heather Sorensen moved to Sanpete County where she attended Manti High School.

As with a few contestants, her dream was not to be on Dancing with the Stars; instead, she preferred to watch the popular program on her couch with popcorn, ice cream, candy or chips.

“Actually, trying to do it is really hard,” she lamented.

By representing all the stay-at-home moms, Sorensen will honor their spirit because she said who has the time to be at home?

The first time she danced with a partner was when she was 5 years old at her aunt’s wedding. She also asked if dancing with animals counts?

So many opportunities for Sorensen to prepare her for the moment of stardom on April 9 are too many to count, but she humorously thinks of her courage in becoming a contestant.

“Losing a bet, drawing the short straw, having your son dance on the dance team, the DWTS booster being totally desperate for dancers,” she said, and the list goes on and on.

Sorensen, though, feels she is one of the oldest competitors but brings worldly experience.

“I would like to say that I have wisdom, dependability and life experience on my side. Too bad this isn’t an election,” she said.

As for her preparation for dancing, she has established a rather unorthodox routine: practice/Ben Gay, practice/Icy Hot, practice/Deep Blue Rub ….

Sorensen, a mother of six, has many hobbies such as reading, horseback riding, camping, fishing, playing board games and hanging out with her friends.

Ali Toigo

Ali “PharmD” Toigo is sometimes referred to as “Cupcake” because of her personalized license plate.

Toigo will represent Banner Churchill Community Hospital, and she looks forward to DWTS.

“I think my 20-something years of dance lessons have prepared me for this brief moment of stardom,” Toigo said. “If nothing else, then I am ready to revisit red lipstick, hair buns, and quick costume changes.”

Yet, it is this confidence that made her want to dance on April 9.

“I love dancing and I remember how much fun I had dancing as a kid,” she said. “When I was asked to participate, I responded with a resounding, ‘Yes! That sounds fun!’ I never thought twice about it … until now.”

Toigo grew up in Roseville, Calif., where she would spend her days in the dance studio performing ballet, jazz and tap dance routines.

From Roseville to Reno came Toigo as she earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from the University of Nevada, Reno and a Doctorate of Pharmacy from Oregon State University.

I’ve been employed with Banner Churchill Community Hospital for six years as a pharmacist and director of pharmacy at Banner Churchill.

I absolutely love being a pharmacist. I love being the drug information guru,” she said.

Her interests have ranged from working out with Kaia Fit to adoring rock bands and concerts.

Thinking about her past has energized her for DWTS.

“I was doing some spring cleaning and dusted off my old tap shoes,” she said. “I started reminiscing about the various costumes and songs. Soon after, I found myself clip-clapping, toe heeling, and stomping down the hallway, grinning from ear to ear. I must’ve tapped my way right into the Fallon Dancing with the Stars contest! Imagine where I would have ended up if I turned on my GPS.”

Tioga said she enjoys spending time with her husband and children by going to the movie theater, bouncing on the trampoline and playing games together.

“My favorite pastimes are cooking, sewing, and crafting. I guess I have a lot of interests; that just means I won’t be bored,” she added.

She calls her mother the most influential person in her life because of her kindness, generosity and beauty.

Shannon Windriver

From a dreamy life working at the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center before it changed its acronym to NADIC to becoming a teacher, Shannon Windriver has her feet squaring on the ground for this year’s DWTS.

Confidence oozes for Windriver, who calls herself “The 34-year-old Texas born, female Fred Astaire” who grew up dancing on the mean streets of Fallon. That youthful desire has carried her from the streets to showing her dance steps as the Ninja/third-grade teacher at Oasis Academy prepares for April 9.

“I wouldn’t say I was forced to be on DWTS, but I was highly encouraged by some of my Oasis family,” she said “My courage comes from my love of dancing and perhaps a ‘confundus’ charm.”

Windriver, who admits she was kicked out of Julliard in her sixth year at Hogwarts, said practice has been going well.

“I’m going to practice and take a lot of naps,” she confessed. “I’ve started taking Vitamin C drops as well.”

Stardom, though, may come easy for Windriver, who has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Science in Reading and Literacy. Dancing and stardom are both in her blood.

Dancing with the Stars had each contestant complete a background form. Answers differed in length.