BREWER, Maine — It was standing room only Saturday night as locals filled the Brewer High School gym to watch a dance competition, dubbed “Dancing Like the Stars,” that paired professional dancers with teachers, students and community members.
The competition is a localized version of the TV reality show “Dancing with the Stars” and like the television show, has a panel of three judges who give reviews of the individual performances that are combined with votes to determine the winner.
In Brewer, the event was held to raise funds for Project Graduation so voting was done by dropping dollars into individual plastic buckets with names of the contestants the voter liked.
Spectators also paid $5 for admission.
“We made just short of $5,000,” Becky Genest, one of three locals who are spearheading Project Graduation this year, said Thursday.
Before the event started on Saturday, she said, “one of the jars already [had] over 75 votes.”
Project Graduation is a chemical-free graduation party held to provide a safe, fun ending to those leaving high school.
The competitors included four teachers, three students and one community member.
“They have no prior dance experience,” Jodi Hershey, mistress of ceremonies of the event, said while introducing the participants. “They volunteered their time and they just have a love of dance.”
“There [are] eight competitors and four will go on to next weekend,” Jeanni Valley, event organizer, said just before the dancers were introduced.
Andy Bush, Jessica Currier, Anthony Severance and Sheri Valley are all Brewer High seniors; Randy Hutchins, Brewer Middle School teacher and athletic director; Andrea Martin and Becky Peterson, both Brewer High English teachers; and Philip Pushard, a 1981 BHS graduate and middle school baseball coach, hit the gym floor with their dancing shoes on.
The professional dancers are all from the Back Door Dance Studio of Eddington and included Annette Anderson, Terry Gordon, Conor Grogan, Earle Jellison, Dave Kneeland, Debbi Leavitt, Terence Lee and Stacie Mooney. Some of the costumes for the competition were provided by Tara Trainer, a Brewer High School gradu-ate from 1997 and owner of the Bridal Gallery.
Each of the dancers, dressed in attire suited for their selected music, looked like they were having a ball entertaining the crowd. Peterson, for example, was dressed in a pink poodle skirt with a pink ribbon in her hair while she did the jitterbug with her partner to “Next to You” by Chuck Berry.
Martin, Peterson, Severance and Valley tallied enough votes to move on to the “Dancing Like the Stars” finale, which is 7 p.m. Saturday.
Those four will perform a ballroom or swing dance Saturday, and will dance an encore performance of their swing dance from last week.
“Then at intermission, the dancers that were eliminated will also do a dance,” Genest said, inviting everyone to attend and support the dancers and Project Graduation.