Eight local couples will take to the stage on Friday, Nov. 3, for the first-ever “Dancing with the Coastal Stars” at the Newport Performing Arts Center. The amateur dancers have been practicing all summer to compete for bragging rights and a mirror-ball trophy on a night that will benefit Samaritan House Family Shelter. The evening will kick-off with a reception of beer, wine, and light hors d’oeuvres at 6:30pm in the PAC lobby before the curtain rises at 7:30pm.
With the help of local dance instructors, each couple will perform a uniquely-choreographed routine with the dance style and song of their choosing. Attendees should expect some surprises, some laughs, and a fun evening for a great cause. They should also plan to pay close attention because each paid admission will receive one vote toward a people’s choice award.
Tickets are on sale now at the PAC Box Office or online by ‘clicking here’ then scroll down. Those unable to attend but wishing to show their support for a team may donate to Samaritan House in their honor by clicking on the “Dancing with the Coastal Stars” link at SamFamShelter.org.
Here’s a look at the eight couples competing in this event:
Bob Cowen & Su Sponaugle
They were the first couple to officially agree to put their dance moves on display for all the world to see. Now, several months later, Bob Cowen and Su Sponaugle are almost ready to waltz across the PAC stage. Bob is the Director of Hatfield Marine Science Center and Su is an OSU Professor of Marine Ecology. Coach Bonnie Prater said dedication and focus have been at the forefront of this couple’s effort. “Bob and Su have been an engaged, proactive couple from the start. Once they committed, they jumped in with all four feet,” she commented. “They are dedicated to putting on a great show and having fun for a great cause.”
Jamie & Courtney Rand
Everyone has tapped a toe along with the beat of a great song, but on Nov. 3, Jamie and Courtney Rand will showcase a full-blown tap dance for the audience at Dancing with the Coastal Stars. Jamie and Courtney were both born and raised in Illinois, about an hour apart from one another. They met while teaching middle school in the Chicago suburbs and within a year and a half they married and moved to Newport. He is the publisher of the Newport News-Times and she is the public relations and sponsorship manager at the Newport Chamber of Commerce. While she participated in dance classes as a child, dancing on a stage of any kind is a brand new experience for Jamie. “It will be very exciting to see these two playing out their parts in this fun and fast-stepping routine,” said coach Heidi Rivers. “I believe the big surprise to the audience will be just how much fun these two have in this dance.”
Mark Farley & Kaety Jacobson
When someone touts prom moves as some of their best dance experience, you know you want to see them on stage. That’s one of many reasons why people will want to see the blues swing dance of Mark Farley and Kaety Jacobson.
Kaety and Mark both work for Oregon Sea Grant. Kaety is a fisheries extension agent and Mark is the manager of Oregon State University’s Cyberlab project. What follows is a direct quote, presumably written by Mark, when asked about their dance experience: “awkward rocking back and forth at 80s and 90s proms, an occasional sprinkler move, a Safety Dance, and in Kaety’s case, years of Ballet, which was swiftly abandoned for a chance to fish with her dad.” In addition to demanding jobs, the couple also has an active home life raising five children, which coach Akia Woods noted hasn’t slowed them down a bit. “They have handled this with total grace,” she said. “Mark and Kaety have been excited and proactive from the beginning. They both have jobs that require huge amounts of time and energy, as well as a house full of kids and they have still really put in some good time” learning to dance.
Margarita Macchia Osio & Julio Jimenez Perilla
Since they were small children, Margarita Macchia Osio and Julio Jimenez Perilla were surrounded by music and dancing. Margarita works for WorkSource Oregon in Newport and Julio works at a local nonprofit agency, but when they aren’t working, you can often find them on the dance floor at local big band concerts and other musical gatherings. The two will perform a combination salsa merengue number that they choreographed themselves. “We did not hesitate to accept the challenge and put our “grain of sand” to collaborate and support the community and those who are in need of help,” Margarita explained. “It is a pleasure and an honor to be part of this event, share our talents and abilities by doing it in a fun and joyful way for the benefit of a just cause.”
Brian & Jody Hanna
You may know them from stage performances or as teachers at the local school, but get ready to see a whole new side of Brian and Jody Hanna when they perform a tango at Dancing with the Coastal Stars. While these two Newport teachers each took a dance class in college, they are not formally trained. That changed when they met Rafael, an experienced tango instructor. “Jody and Brian started with zero knowledge of Argentine Tango in June,” their coach explained. “They have had fun learning and practicing new steps every week and learning to dance in close embrace. Jody and Brian have worked hard to learn the tango and their enthusiasm to dance on stage will be fun to watch,” he added. As much as they enjoy dancing, the Hannas say it was the opportunity to help Samaritan House that inspired them to join the event.
Gabrielle McEntee & Shelby Knife
It takes two to tango and that’s precisely why Gabrielle McEntee and Shelby Knife are perfectly paired to perform a sexy Argentine number. Born in Arkansas and raised in Colorado, Shelby is currently working for Yachats Rural Fire Protection District. Gabrielle was born and raised in Newport and currently owns and operates Mo’s restaurants. Gabrielle grew up taking dance and performing while Shelby “only dances when he’s in a bar,” according to Gabrielle. In recent months, both have learned an entirely new way to dance. The couple has studied under the tutelage of Rafael – an experienced dancer and choreographer in the world of Argentine Tango. “Shelby’s lead complements Gabrielle’s tall and elegant look,” coach Rafael remarked. “They do their homework and come prepared after reviewing on their own the steps from the last rehearsal,” he added.
Jennifer Wrazen and Sean Rash
Stethoscopes will be replaced by fancy footwork when physicians Jennifer Wrazen and Sean Rash take the stage to perform a foxtrot. These two pediatricians have no formal dance training and little experience, but coach Vickie Steen says the audience may well be surprised at how well they dance together. “Jennifer and Sean have put many hours into learning to dance,” Steen said, noting the extra time constraints presented by their work as doctors and their busy family life. “I am coaching them, but they do the work.” Each team is also challenged to raise funds for Samaritan House as part of a “people’s choice” competition. Team Wrazen/Rash enlisted Nana’s Irish Pub, who will show its support by donating proceeds of the day’s earnings on Thursday, October 26, to Samaritan House in honor of Wrazen and Rash. Donations may also be made in their name at the Samaritan House website.
Coley Wallin and Wade Sproul
It’s a competition that culminates in a mirror ball trophy and nothing goes better with a mirror ball than some well-choreographed disco moves. That’s what Coley Wallin and Wade Sproul will bring to the stage. Ironically, both were born well after disco’s heyday but that won’t stop them from getting their groove on. Wade is a native of Newport and is the owner of his own custom shoe business, FabricatedSoles. Coley was raised in Gig Harbor, Washington, but has been living in Oregon for eleven years. She is currently a teacher at Toledo Elementary School. Neither has any real dance experience. Helyn Layton, dance instructor extraordinaire, wasn’t intimidated by their limited dance resume and says their hard work will show on the stage. “They come to every practice enthusiastic and eager to work,” Helen explains. “They are always willing to try new things and have gone over and beyond my expectations. I am so proud of Wade and Coley and I feel blessed to have gotten to know them and work with them in such a creative way for such a valuable cause.”
Again, “Dancing with the Coastal Stars” tickets are available at the Newport Performing Arts Center or online at CoastalArts.org or just ‘click here’ then scroll down.