News Column

Broomfield's dancing stars return for encore

August 29, 2014

By Megan Quinn, Broomfield Enterprise, Colo.

Aug. 29--For the contestants of this year's Dancing with the Broomfield Stars, their desire to do good for the community overshadows their fears about getting on stage.

The dance competition, modeled after the popular TV show, raises money for the Broomfield Community Foundation. Eight couples will dance their hearts out to raise money for the Foundation during the Sept. 11 event.

Each dance team, made up of a community member and a professional dancer, performs uniquely choreographed dances to wow the crowd and raise money for the Broomfield Community Foundation. The audience can vote for their favorite dancers by donating money, and the couple that raises the most money during the event wins the competition.

Last year's dance competition brought in around $60,000 in donations.

Most of the "celebrity" dancers have little or no dance background, but are dedicated to their performances despite stage fright or worries about getting the moves just right, said Karen Smith, Foundation director.

"All the dancers this year are really into it and excited," she said. "There are going to be some great performances."

Though the dance competition is the main event of the evening, the audience also will be treated to food from Broomfield-area restaurants and between-act entertainment.

Guest judges will be Mike Croell, Linda Deland, Bruce Erley and Bruce Johnson

Before making their debut for the judges, the local celebrity dancers go through an extensive rehearsal process, Smith said.

Last year's event drew around 800 people, and Smith hopes to top that number this year.

Here's a look at who the dancing "stars" will be:

The couple: Carolyn Gdowski and Braeden Smith

The dance: Foxtrot

Gdowski has a passion for community service. As a real estate agent, she donates 5 percent of her commission to a charity of the homebuyer's choice.

Gdowski and her husband, Adams 12 school district superintendent Chris Gdowski, have attended the event in the past.

Knowing the Dancing with the Broomfield Stars event raises money for many of the charities and nonprofits near and dear to her clients' hearts, she decided it was time to learn the foxtrot.

Because the event is on Sept. 11, the fotxtrot also will include a patriotic flair as a celebration of the United States, she said.

Gdowski said she is nervous about getting the steps right, but said the opportunity to raise money for worthwhile community organizations is worth a few missteps.

"It's so important to give back, and it helps me find the courage to perform," she said.

Her partner is Smith, an instructor at Booth's Dance Denver.

He fell in love with ballroom dance when he was 12, and then learned Latin dance.

As an instructor, he feels that he is able to learn more about the world of dance while also opening up that world to his students, he stated in a bio for the event.

Teaching dance allows him to "provide each student with a priceless gift" by watching his dancers grow as dancers and as people, he stated.

The couple: Gina Hermann and George Grijalva

The dance: Lyrical, salsa, mambo

Hermann, a pediatrician, said participating in community festivals and events is a big priority for her family. In the past, she has been part of an annual M.S. Walk, where "The G Team" raises money to support those with multiple sclerosis, including her mother.

When a "mystery nominator" threw Hermann's hat in the ring to dance, she said the invitation made perfect sense.

"In the past, I've donated to specific groups, but this (event) helps me feel I am giving in many ways. The fact that (the Foundation) gives grants to so many places in the area, it allows us all to give in a bigger way," she said.

Her instructor is Grijalva, who has been active in sports throughout his life.

After college, he started salsa dancing -- and that's when he fell in love with his dance instructor, Nahetzin. Under her training, they competed in several ballroom dance competitions.

Both George and Nahetzin are performing in this year's event.

The couple: Beth Fouchey and Patrick Mueller

The dance: Variety (ballet, hip hop and jazz)

Fouchey moved to Broomfield eight years ago with her family and works at King Soopers in Lafayette. Fouchey, who has Down syndrome, attends many events at FRIENDS of Broomfield, an organization for adults with developmental disabilities.

Fouchey's father, Ty Fouchey, said his daughter took a jazz dance class about 20 years ago, but hasn't had any formal training since. But she loves to dance in any situation, he said.

Being part of Dancing with the Broomfield Stars is "a dream come true," she told her family and her friends at FRIENDS.

Fouchey's partner is Colorado Conservatory of Dance instructor Mueller, who has toured the country and world with several dance companies. He also founded Control Group

Productions, a dance-theatre company.

The two will perform to the theme song from the '80s fantasy movie "The Neverending Story," Ty Fouchey said.

"She's so excited," he said.

The couple: Steve Higgins and Diana Strashnikova

The dance: Hip hop/cha-cha

Higgins, a longtime Broomfield resident who works in financial services, said he loves to dance.

"I'm the first to start dancing at a wedding," he said, but his Dancing With the Broomfield Stars routine is a little different than a typical wedding dance.

His partner, dancer Strashnikova of Booth's Dance Denver, is a helpful and firm dance instructor, he said.

The couple's aerobic "hip hop cha-cha" dance blends ballroom dance with more modern elements, he said.

Though the dance is a lot more work than he anticipated, he is inspired by the Foundation's continued support of the community where he and his family live.

"I want this to be a positive experience for the Foundation, and my primary goal is to help with that," he said.

He wants to impress his three young daughters, too.

"I want them to see this and think it's cool," he said.

Strashnikova began her dance training at 6, when she lived in Bulgaria. When she moved to the United States in 2008, she started teaching both international and American styles of dance.

The couple: Greg Blanchard and Katie Scotten

The dance: Hustle and nightclub

Blanchard has a special connection to the Community Foundation because he is one of the founders and a past president. He is also a past board member of the Broomfield Chamber of Commerce, volunteer assistant wrestling coach for Broomfield High and head coach for several local basketball and soccer teams.

Blanchard's deep love of Broomfield is what helped him earn a Heart of Broomfield award.

Dancing is the next item on his volunteer to-do list. He agreed to dance for Dancing with the Broomfield Stars "to the delight of (my) family and friends...," he stated in his Dancing with the Broomfield stars bio.

Instructor Scotten of Booth's Dance Denver grew up dancing in Montana, where she trained extensively in ballet. Over the years, she also trained in jazz, hip hop and modern dance.

She has professionally choreographed musical theatre productions and been involved in a variety of dance and performance projects.

The couple: Kale Gilmore and Stephanie McGill

The dance: Mix of styles (swing, hip hop, disco)

Gilmore is a born-and-raised Broomfield resident who has volunteered in the community plenty over the years. He graduated from Broomfield High School and now works as Broomfield's director of information technology.

He might not be an active dancer, but is an active person who loves to play sports, he said in his bio.

He has been a volunteer coach for several sports over the past 20 years. He is an assistant varsity baseball coach at Broomfield High and coaches his 15-year-old daughter, Taylor, in competitive softball.

His dance partner, instructor McGill, has studied ballet at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and Dance Arts Studio, where she now teaches ballet, tap, modern, hip hop, and jazz. She also has performed professionally in many Colorado companies,including with the Boulder Ballet and David Taylor Dance Theatre.

Dance isn't her only passion. She also is a certified Pilates instructor at Pilates Movement for Life in Arvada.

The couple: Brian Conly and Nahetzin Grijalva

The dance: Rumba/hip hop/jive medley

Conly might not be known for his dance moves, but he is well-known as the director of the Bal Swan Children's Center, a preschool he calls "the loved and cherished jewel of Broomfield."

Conly loves watching children learn every day at the center, and loves raising his own two kids, daughter, Lily and son, River.

He'll perform his dance for his kids, Bal Swan families and other audience members with his dance instructor, Grijalva.

Grijalva became hooked on ballroom dancing when she was young. She competed professionally while in college, then met her husband, George, while dancing.

The couple now owns the Loftea Cafe, an organic coffee shop in Arista.

The couple: Linda Johnson and Timmy Merz

The dance: Hustle-jive

Johnson, a nurse who works for Boulder Valley Women's Health Center, leads an active lifestyle that now includes dance.

A longtime resident of Broomfield, she loves swimming and tennis. She helped start the Broomfield Sharks swim team and even swims in the winter at the Lakeshore Athletic Club.

Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and had a double masecotmy in 2013.

Staying active has been a key to her recovery, she said.

"My message to any woman is that if you are faced with a challenge of your health, embrace it, and make yourself stronger than before," she said.

Johnson said her dance partner and instructor, Merz, has made the dance training fun.

Merz was once a collegiate track athlete training for the Olympics, he has now been teaching ballroom dancing since 2005.

Merz said his high-energy sports background helped him develop a unique style of teaching that is "powered by my sports and musical background," he wrote in his bio.

Contact Enterprise Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or quinnm@broomfie

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(c)2014 the Broomfield Enterprise (Broomfield, Colo.)

Visit the Broomfield Enterprise (Broomfield, Colo.) at www.broomfieldenterprise.com

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Source: Broomfield Enterprise (CO)


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