The Mountain Times

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Rutland’s Stars perform on stage for judges, community entertainment and charity

RUTLAND-Dancing With the Rutland Stars is an ingenious fundraising event for Kids on the Move in Rutland. After a successful competition last year, the event is being hosted again by the Friends of Kids on the Move on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre.

When it comes to raising funds and awareness, Friends of Kids on the Move knew they had their work cut out for them. The group had to come up with a creative idea in order to promote their causes and the benefits of Kids on the Move. They succeeded in doing so by capitalizing on the successful TV show Dancing With the Stars. Local professional dancers Tara Bombardier, Cathy Salmons and Gayle Lang were supportive and full of great ideas. The local community also jumped on board and everyone involved is excited to be doing it again for the second year.

This year's Stars are Michael Coppinger, Executive Director of the Downtown Partnership, Joan Gamble, Strategic Change Consultant; Rutland City Mayor, Christopher Louras; Eric Mallette, Program Director at the Paramount Theatre; T.J. Sabotka, CPA a partner at the accounting firm of O'Brien Shortle Reynolds & Sabotka, PC and Attorney John Valente, a partner at Ryan Smith & Carbine, Ltd.

These prominent community figures have taken six weeks out of their busy schedules to train and rehearse. Mayor Christopher Louras says, "I have come to realize that dance is work, very hard work. I haven't had the opportunity to 'have fun' in the conventional sense because it is so much like work." Mr. Louras hasn't danced in 30 years and even went so far as to avoid it at his own wedding. Despite his lack of experience and conditioning, he says, "But as difficult as it can be, it fails to compare with the day in and day out difficulties experienced by the children for whom this great Kids on the Move fundraiser is meant to help."

The professional dancers who have been training with the stars are Tara Bombardier of Centre Dance in Rutland; Shelby Jones of Cobra Gymnastics; Gayle Lang of All About Dance at Grand Performance in Rutland; Leif Erickson, Optometrist and former international ice dancer; Ana DiTursi, private ballet and dance instructor, and Gina Pezzetti of Miss Lorraine School of Dance.
All About Dance at Grand Performance is proud to be celebrating 15 years of dance excellence this year. Gayle T. Lang, director, is not only an award winning choreographer, professional dancer and national dance judge, but many of her students have excelled in prestigious dance competitions, winning top awards against thousands of contestants throughout the country.

The studio even has a connection to the Dancing With the Stars of TV fame two-time winner Julianne Hough, who rehearsed there with her star Chuck Wicks in 2009. Lang is working with Mayor Louras this year and she says "It's hard work in a very short amount of time. The Stars/Professionals put in a lot of rehearsal time, commitment and dedication. The stars face a lot of fears to learn a dance routine in less than 10 weeks, perform it in front of 850 people and be judged on it," says Lang. "We rehearsed several times a week at the beginning. Now, it's every day for hours. The Mayor is now feeling muscles he has never felt before."
Last year the event raised $15,000 for Kids on the Move and the organizers hope that this year will be even better with the possibility of a sold out Paramount Theatre on Saturday. Coordinator Bernadette Robin speaks to the importance of the cause when she says "Kids on the Move, a pediatric rehabilitation program and the Pediatric Hi-Tech program are wonderful programs, and so meaningful for families that need their services."

Founded in 1995, Kids on the Move was created to fill a void that was left in the medical community when pediatric rehabilitation services were eliminated at an area institution, she notes, stating that "Now a program of the Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, Kids on the Move is the only pediatric rehabilitation program within a 60-mile radius of Rutland."