Dance fever strikes Fairfield: Couples step up for a cause
Putting their best feet forward, fortified with a brave what-the-heck attitude, notable locals paired with dance pros for a Friday evening at the Patterson Club that won't soon be forgotten.
In the end, though, it was "Positive"-ly riveting.
They were rocking the club's ballroom for "A Chance to Dance," a fundraiser benefiting Positive Directions, a Westport-based nonprofit that supports programs to help people with substance-abuse and mental-health problems. Proceeds raised during the event will fund a new "Campaign for Positivity," which focuses on issues among school-age youth.
About 200 people attended, enjoying cocktails, a champagne toast, and dance performances by six dance duos in a "Dancing with the Stars"-style competition. Attendees included state Sen. John McKinney, television adventurer Richard Weise, artist Miggs Burroughs, who designed the event's logos, and Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey.
Six teams hit the dance floor, including First Selectman Michael Tetreau, sporting white disco duds reminiscent of Travolta's outfit in "Saturday Night Fever," along with suitably darker locks than his usual silver mane. His partner was professional Tiffany Petrocelli.
Other couples in the hunt were: Fairfield Prep's the Rev. Charles Allen and Kayla Borsari, Westport Arts Center's Peter Van Heerden and Lauren Lanham, Louise Baldwin and Danny Ballero, Suzanne Gorab and Martin Ramsauer, and Tracey Kane and Paul Herman. The evening was emceed by Bill Brennan and Michael Ross. Judges included Bill Mitchell, Carole Schweid and Sydney Johnson.
Gorab and Ramsauer captured the judges' Mirror Ball Trophy, while Van Heerden and Lanham took the popular vote.
Tetreau performed to the accompaniment of the Bee Gees' disco hit, "Stayin' Alive," with partner Petrocelli, a Flash Pointe studio instructor. Tetreau, who had no previous dance experience, had only five practice sessions with Petrocelli since August before debuting at Friday's event.
When he was first asked to participate, Tetreau said, "It sounded easy ... However, this is totally out of character for me. But we're going for the gold and leaving it all on the floor."
Petrocelli, 22, who has been dancing since she was 14, had a strategy to bring Tetreau up to speed. "I got him to feel the music, and translated a lot of the moves into football terms. He's a quick learner and dedicated. We had five one-hour sessions. Our dance number is a six on a scale of 1 to10," she said.
Baldwin, co-owner of In2Design, paired with Ballaro, a graduate of the Stratford Academy of Dance and now an independent dance instructor. "We have chosen a hip-hop song we're calling the `Wop Up,' a combination of two songs titled "The Wop Up" and "Wind Up and Wop". We're going to do awesome."
Lanham, the grants director for Positive Directions, who was paired with Van Heerden, said the event was the first of its kind for the organization. "The appeal of dancing was too great. It's a real fun night out," she said.
Dancers were scored by the judges on presentation, technique and effort and given point totals from one to 10. The audience had the option of voting for a favorite dance team, placing their ballots in a bowl at the center of their tables. Each vote cost $10, and was donated to Positive Directions.
For more information about Positive Directions and its programs, visit: http://www.positivedirections.org