By Rose Egelhoff (The Moab Times-Independent)- It’s another year, another round of Dancing with the Moab Stars.
This year, the Moab Valley Multicultural Center will host the fourth edition of the annual dance competition, where seven of Moab’s most famous residents will pair with seven dancers to create dance routines for a night of entertainment.
The show will be Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Grand County High School Auditorium. Tickets will be available for $13 at Back of Beyond Books or the Multicultural Center as well as for $15 at the door. The show, which has been sold out in past years, will be a fundraiser for the multicultural center.
Three community judges will rate contestants based on musicality and expression, connectivity between the pairs and overall performance to award first, second and third place to competitors, according to Katlyn Keane, volunteer coordinators at the Multicultural Center.
There will be a People’s Choice award given based on which pair receives the loudest cheers, as measured by a decibel meter. The judges will also determine who wins Best Costume and Best Production. The show will also include a multicultural flag processional to showcase the countries represented in Moab, Keane said.
The judges will be local Zumba instructor Sandy Sneed, 2015 Dancing with the Moab Stars winner Gabe Woytek and previous Dancing with the Moab Stars participant Gretchen Wise.
The contestants will be Kelly Vagts, Jill Tatton, Sam Wainer, Brad Maxwell, Terry Lewis, Emily Neihaus, Aaron Aboites, Maralee Francis and Jim Nelson. They will work with instructors Bit Betancourt, Regan Ballard, Karen Garthwait, Cindy Montague, Caitlin Ballard, Rob Kerchen, Cali Bulmash, Erika Ring and Norma Bañuelos.
Cali Bulmash and Aaron Aboites will perform a dance to the chart-topping song “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi, according to Bulmash.
“It’s going to be definitely a mix of dance styles. We’re kind of piecing it together with Youtube and what feels good, obviously that Latin flavor but… it’s going to be fun. The goal is that at the end everyone will be dancing with us,” Bulmash said.
“The Multicultural Center is just one of my favorite nonprofits in town,” Bulmash said. “They do a lot of necessary work in the community and I love to dance and so it’s just a great way … to volunteer and help with them.”
Terry Lewis, the director of the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center (MRAC) called the competition a fun event that the community gets behind.
“It speaks really highly of the volunteerism [in the community] and the jobs that the [staff] down there at the center are doing,” Lewis said. “I think they’re doing a fabulous job.”
The MRAC has been a resource for the Multicultural Center for several years, Lewis said, partnering with the center and private donors to make MRAC services like swimming lessons available at low or no cost to children who would not otherwise have access to them, and allowing students in the tutoring program to swim as a reward for reaching study goals.
“I just hope that everybody will come and buy a ticket and support the Multicultural Center,” Lewis said. “It was a real challenge getting the center established … and I know that [Executive Director] Rhiana [Medina] and everybody down there has worked super hard for the last several years.”
Lewis will be dancing with instructor Caitlin Ballard. Lewis declined to comment on the details of her dance but said that the theme will be aquatic, with MRAC lifeguards as back-up dancers.
Sam Wainer, another contestant, was paired with Karen Garthwait, who suggested a tap dancing routine.
“I kind of always wanted to tap dance,” Wainer said. “I never have before, but I thought it would be fun … It’s been a ton of fun but it’s also been a ton of work.”
Wainer has been meeting Garthwait two to three times a week since April, to learn tap dancing from scratch.
Wainer is happy to participate in the event, he said.
“It’s a great fundraiser,” Wainer said. “It’s a great cause for the multicultural center. It’s a great community event.”
More information and tickets are available on the multicultural center website at www.moabmc.org.