Couples step up for Dancing with the Stars

Stephanie Chaves and Brian Slaughter rehearse a number for Dancing with the Stars. Glenn Ogilvie

Cathy Dobson

Stephanie Chaves says her only dancing expertise comes from watching Dancing with the Stars on TV.

“I haven’t actually danced since I took ballet when I was five,” says the local radio news anchor. “Apparently I have bad balance.”

Yet she and Sarnia Zumba instructor Brian Slaughter have worked diligently on two dance routines featuring Argentine Tango and something they call Bollywood Hip Hop.

Since being invited to compete in the Dancing with the Stars gala at the Holiday Inn, the pair have met three times weekly since September and learned to rock step together.

Their flicks and kicks are looking really good.

“We have a lot of fun,” says Chaves. “Sometimes I wonder how much dancing we do because we laugh all the way through our rehearsals.

“It’s much harder than I thought.”

She was approached nearly a year ago by event co-ordinator Eve Morgan-Langille, who hopes the dancing competition will raise as much as $15,000 for the Alzheimer Society of Sarnia Lambton.

“I’m doing it mostly because it’s something I’ve never done before and Eve is a friend,” said Chaves.  “But I’m getting nervous now because I don’t have any idea how we compare to the other couples.”

Each couple is a local personality paired with someone with dance experience. Chaves’ partner, Brian Slaughter, competed in a previous version of Dancing with the Stars when it was a fundraiser for the Strangway Centre.

The Strangway Centre event attracted a lot of attention and money but was discontinued about three years ago.

Morgan-Langille says she believes it still has great potential. In fact, ticket sales are stronger than expected and could easily sell out.

“People are already asking about next year,” she said.

Attendees receive a glass of champagne with the price of a ticket and appetizers served at the table throughout the competition.

A panel of judges assesses each dance pair and the audience can vote for their three favourite couples. Winners are announced at 9:15 p.m., followed by live entertainment by Painkiller Jane.

As for Chaves and Slaughter, they’re spending the days leading up to the contest designing costumes and perfecting their presentation.

“I am an instructor, not a dancer, but we seem to be doing very well,” said Slaughter.  “It’s been challenging but it’s also a lot of fun.”

Other dance pairs include Richard Ponic and Nancy Michieli; Deryn Ramirez and Jorge De Guzman; Marc Piquette and Hana Omar; Kelly Ash and Butch Minshall; and Valerie MacGregor-Rempel and Vasco Michieli.

A group of former competitors will also perform a non-judged routine.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Dancing with the Stars contest and silent auction.

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 23. Reception 6 p.m., competition 7 p.m.

WHERE: Holiday Inn, 1498 Venetian Blvd.

TICKETS: $65 each or eight for $500. Call the local Alzheimer Society at 519-332-4444.

Stephanie Chaves and Brian Slaughter

Stephanie Chaves and Brian Slaughter