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Dedham Dancers Anxious, Ready to Compete in Annual Fundraiser

The annual Dancing with the Dedham Stars event will take place at Moseley's on the Charles Saturday, Feb. 1.

Four of the six DWTDS contestants. Photo Credit: Maureen Sargent
Four of the six DWTDS contestants. Photo Credit: Maureen Sargent

It will be a weekend of dancing and anticipation in Dedham.

The widely-popular annual fundraiser, Dancing with the Dedham Stars, kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Moseley's on the Charles, and 

Each contestant asked to participate takes part in 10 free lessons with dancers of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, training for 10-12 weeks leading up to the event. All proceeds and funds raised goes to the Dedham Educational Partnership, which asks each contestant to secure a $300 sponsorship. The event also features group dances; this year will see a high school group and an all-ladies group taking part. 

In terms of judging, sixth, fifth and fourth place are announce din no particular order with the amount of money they raised, said event organizer Dimitria Sullivan. The third and second-place winners are then announced with regard to the amount of money they raised. Lastly, the champion is named as a result of the "popular vote", which goes to the person who raises the most money leading up to the event. 

This year's contestants are as follows:

  • Judy Bryne, Riverdale School Nurse
  • Cheryl Kerr, Pastor at Allin Church
  • Jim Forrest, DHS Assistant Principal
  • Tom Ryan, Attorney Suffolk Registry of Deeds
  • Alex Shumway, Magazine Advertising Saleswoman
  • Shawn Greenwood, Electrician

"This group is really bonding together," Sullivan said. "They're going out the night before the show, things like that. They go back and forth about the competition, who's going to win, who's going to raise money for the kids. They're all working really hard to become number one." 

Dedham Patch recently spoke with several of the participants about how training for the event has been, and their thoughts on taking part this year. 

"As soon as I was asked to participate, I started asking friends and family members to sponsor me, visiting local businesses and planning a party to help fundraise," Byrne said. "Of course you want to perform well and raise the most money, but in the end it's a huge charity event for our schools and a very fun night. Working with the other contestants ahas been the one aspect of the competition that has been the most fun. There are a number of us that like to poke fun and banter via email."

Adding to that, the contestants have all been communicating frequently via email to discuss trainings, as well as to engage in friendly "trash talk."

"The trash talk has been hilarious," said Kerr, who has been simultaneously training for the competition and the upcoming 2014 Boston Marathon. "It's something that, the movement and rhythm is something that's in my soul," she said. "I can't say enough about the dance studio. I'm so excited about this."

Shumway, meanwhile, has gone so far as to produce "Training Tip" videos as part of her fundraising efforts. 

"I'm probably my own worst enemy when it comes to things like this," she said. "I think there was a bit of an expectation. I love doing it, it's hilarious and it's fun."

Greenwood, for his part, will be dedicating his dance of the night to Nicole Ahl, a Dedham resident who passed away at the age of 10 last year. Part of the proceeds will be allocated to a scholarship fund for Ahl, which will be awarded in her name in 2021, the year she was meant to graduate, Greenwood said. 

As far as the dancing part, he said he was certainly surprised when asked to take part this year. 

"They put me in a position where I couldn't say no," said Greenwood, who held a fundraiser at the Dedham American Legion on New Year's Eve with more than 100 people attending. "Right from the beginning it's been great. It's an awesome experience. It's been great camaraderie, great back-and-forth, challenging each other. It's been pretty competitive, but in a great, fun way. Nothing I've done before, way out of my comfort zone. Would I do something like this again? For a good cause, absolutely." 

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