Dancing with Carson City’s stars | NevadaAppeal.com

Dancing with Carson City’s stars

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Andrew Pridgen/Nevada Appeal Sheriff Kenny Furlong and DeAnn Rife, 18, of Sparks, practice for Let's Dance Carson City, a fundraiser for the Carson Area Wellness Coalition, on Monday at the Brewery Arts Center Ballroom. The Competition begins 7 p.m. Saturday.

What do Mario Lopez, Ian Ziering and Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong have in common?

(No, the answer isn’t they’re all ’90s teen idols.)

It’s dancing, of course.

Furlong put the finishing touches on his waltz routine with partner/instructor DeAnn Rife, 18, of Sparks, on Monday at the Brewery Arts Center Ballroom.

The pair, along with seven other local dancing teams, will showcase two months of hard work, sweat and “countless hours” of practice Saturday at Let’s Dance Carson City.

“We’ve done six months of planning and organizing and recruiting and rehearsing,” said Let’s Dance organizer Toni VanCleave of the fundraiser for the Carson Area Wellness Coalition, set to kick off 7 p.m. Saturday at the Brewery Arts Center. “It’s been exciting and we get to celebrate by watching our local ‘celebrities’.”

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Based on the TV hit “Dancing with the Stars,” locals are paired up with professional dancers for four weekends of showcase dances.

Saturday’s event will feature each couple dancing the waltz – a favorite of several participants.

“I was at a wedding last weekend in Santa Barbara and everyone said ‘do your waltz, do your waltz’,” Furlong said. “I said, ‘no, no – you’ll have to wait. But really, it’s been such an awesome experience.”

Helaine Jesse, Western Nevada College vice president of development and external affairs, said she’s “already gotten results from her dancing.”

Catching her breath and a sip of bottled water between songs, she motioned to her partner, Bert Mooneyham, 25, a UNR civil engineering major.

“I didn’t want to be bigger than my partner,” Jesse said. “I’ve already lost 25 pounds – no joke.

“Am I going to keep dancing after this? You bet I am.”

Carson City’s Open Space Manager Juan Guzman said he “grew up dancing the salsa” but “didn’t have a clue” when he started training six weeks ago with his partner, Erin Scully, 20, of Reno.

“He’s doing awesome,” Scully said, giving Guzman a congratulatory pat on the shoulder. “I’m so proud of him, he’s going to do amazing on Saturday night.”

The reality of the dance’s main event coming less than a week away struck several of the dancers, both pro and amateur, during the last week of rehearsal:

“I’ll go home at night – practice – and say ‘oh shoot, what was that step again?,'” said Jesse. “Then, the next practice out, I’ll remember it.

“This has been the most physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve done. It’s step after step after step. But once you get it, like in the waltz, it’s exhilarating – it’s like they say, like floating on air.”

Performances will continue Sept. 22 and 29. The formal gala awards finale will be Oct. 13. The final two performances will feature the most difficult dances, the tango and salsa.

“At first there were a few who were shy or unsure,” said head choreographer Suzette Feilen, co-owner of Never Enough Ballroom in Reno. “Every week they keep stepping up and learning more difficult routines. Every week I keep challenging.

“At this pace, they’ll be ready for anything.”

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen can be reached at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

If you go

What: Let’s Dance Carson City

When: 7 p.m. Saturday and Sept. 22 and 29. A formal gala/awards finale will be Oct. 13.

Where: Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St.

Cost: Tickets for each competition are $15 per person except the Oct. 13 gala is $20; $60 for all four nights.

On the Net: http://www.brewery arts.org