New Albany News

Five central Ohioans to show off best moves Feb. 10

New Albany Symphony Orchestra's performance will feature Latin-style music and audience-judged dance competition

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Five central Ohio residents will show the community how well they've learned to dance as part of the New Albany Symphony Orchestra's Shall We Dance? performance in February.

The Feb. 10 show will feature Latin-style music chosen by music director Luis Biava, who originally is from Colombia. Selected works will include Carmen by Georges Bizet, The Three-Cornered Hat by Manuel de Falla, Begin the Beguine by Cole Porter and Ran Kan Kan by Tito Puente.

All other pieces will feature professional dancers from Diamond Dance and Fitness of Gahanna and Westerville paired with residents from Gahanna, Lewis Center, New Albany and Westerville.

Heather Garner, the symphony orchestra's executive director, said the dancers were nominated to be part of the competition by friends, relatives and co-workers.

The dancers will perform a variety of Latin dances, and the audience will be asked to choose the best performance at the end of the show.

Garner said the audience would be able to vote for the dancers by texting a grade to a phone number.

"The results will be recorded in real time and be shown on stage," she said.

The guest dancers will be:

* Kristen Gregory, a Gahanna Lincoln High School senior. She will dance with Diamond Dance owner Alex Thomas.

* Shobha Painter, a registered dietitian and stay-at-home mother who lives in New Albany. She will dance with Owen Shelton.

* Meghan Pierson, a group fitness instructor and personal trainer who lives in Westerville. She will dance with Srdjan Mikuljan.

* Cheryle A. Russo, an executive vice president and retail executive for PNC Bank who lives in Lewis Center. She will dance with Josh Tilford.

* Sloan Spalding, general counsel for the Ohio Board of Regents and University System of Ohio and a member of New Albany City Council. He will dance with Ashley Wessel.

All of the professional dancers are instructors at Diamond Dance and Fitness.

Both Spalding and Pierson said preparing for the performance was difficult, especially getting ready to dance in public.

"I thought it would be fun but it's a tremendous amount of work," Spalding said. "I wasn't ready for the amount of hours it takes."

Thomas said it is a big challenge for the average person to have only a few months to prepare.

"It's a big challenge for the average person but they've met the challenge," Thomas said.

Spalding, 43, estimated he'd spent 50 hours in the past three months preparing for the dance.

He said the last time he actually danced was at his wedding 12 years ago. He said trying to learn the footwork and matching it with the music was the most difficult for him.

"(They are) trying to make someone who's not, look elegant," he joked.

Pierson, 42, who teaches Pilates and yoga at the New Albany Country Club, said the process was difficult for her, too.

"I think I think too much about it," she said. "Even if it's an easy step, you can overthink it and not let your body do it."

Another difficult part was having her instructor and dance partner tell her to be "sexy."

"It threw me out of my comfort zone," Pierson said, laughing. "It's difficult to describe. I guess it is because of some of the moves and you're dancing with someone you just met."

Pierson said she is nervous about the performance.

Spalding said he probably would be nervous the night of the show but was confident he would be prepared.

"The idea of being up on stage, in front of people with the orchestra, it's really creeping up on them," Garner said.

The Shall We Dance? show will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, in the Schottenstein Theater at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, 100 W. Dublin-Granville Road in New Albany.

Tickets are $9 to $17 in advance and are available at 614-245-4701, newalbanysymphony.com or the McCoy center box office. Tickets will be $11 to $19 one hour prior to the show.

The Shall We Dance? show is part of the PNC Foundation's Arts Alive initiative, which provides funding for visual- and performing-arts organizations.

Part of the foundation grant, Garner said, will be used to bring a string quartet and two dancers from Diamond Dance and Fitness to perform for first-graders at the New Albany K-1 elementary building; students at the Columbus Jewish Day School; students at Walnut Ridge High School; and residents at Emeritus at Chestnut Hills, a retirement community in New Albany.

During each of the presentations, the dancers will teach students and the senior citizens a few dance steps.

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