March 19, 2010

Campus Celebrities Plan to Show off Their Best Moves for "Dancing with the CWRU Stars" on March 20


ABC kicks off its next season of the "Dancing with the Stars" franchise on Monday, March 22. A football star, several actresses and an Olympic medalist are just a few of the cast members who will compete for the chance to own a mirror ball trophy.

Case Western Reserve University will have its own crop of dancers take to the floor on Saturday, March 20. A vice provost, an athletic trainer and an undergraduate admission director are just a few of the university "stars" on the roster. However, they're competing for more than just bragging rights. They're planning to bring their best waltzes, hip hop and cha cha moves to raise funds for pediatric cancer patients at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Dance Marathon at Case Western Reserve University (DM-CWRU), a new student group, will present "Dancing with the CWRU Stars 2010" at 7 p.m. in Horsburgh Gymnasium. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for the rest of the campus community.

Eric Mott, chair of DM-CWRU's board of directors, said the organization aims to help the local community through service. The group routinely sends volunteers to Rainbow Hospital. Their motto is "For the Kids!"

Each Case Western Reserve celebrity dancer has been paired with a pro from university dance groups or local dance studios. Most of the duos have been practicing for several weeks in preparation for tomorrow night's event.

Donald Feke, vice provost for undergraduate education and professor of chemical engineering, is one of the faculty/staff stars. "This is a charity event and it's a very worthy cause," he said about signing up. He took ballroom dancing as a hobby more than 20 years ago. "It has allowed me to remember how much I enjoy ballroom," said Feke, who will perform a waltz.

Susan (Suzi) Higgins, head athletic trainer, was recruited by one of her students to join the fundraiser. She's training for a half marathon and felt dancing would be a good way to supplement her workouts. The biggest surprise so far? Remembering the steps for her salsa/samba routine. Her solution was to have her husband video tape one of her practice sessions. Higgins said she "never thought I could dance in heels, but I'm picking it up OK." She'd like to continue dancing for fun.

Remembering the steps is also the biggest concern of Shannon Yuhnke, training and support manager for the IT operations group in the Division of Student Affairs. However, that won't stop her from taking to the dance floor tomorrow night for a cha cha routine benefitting a worthy cause. "Justin (her dance partner) has been very patient with me, which has helped to calm my nerves a bit."

Although most faculty/staff stars are doing ballroom or Latin styles, the DM-CWRU committee approached Ryan Keytack with a different idea. The associate director of undergraduate admission said he'll "attempt" to do a hip hop/funk routine to help raise funds for children battling illness. "Cancer has impacted my family in many ways, so it’s also personal for me. I’m thrilled to give back to a community that means so much to me." He participated in Dance Marathon as a graduate student and saw how it "brings so many facets of campus life together. I’m a believer." His professional partner encouraged him to watch the show "America’s Best Dance Crew" to brush up on his hip hop skills. "I’ve never been this sore in my life," he said about the practice sessions.

Campus members will play an important role in choosing the winners of "Dancing with the CWRU Stars." The champions will be crowned based on a combination of audience votes and recommendations from a panel of judges.

According to DM-CWRU, the roster for "Dancing with the CWRU Stars" is:

  • Susan Alexander, assistant director of financial aid for student employment, paired with Gordon Kwan (All About Dancing)
  • Lora Doleh, Division of Student Affairs, paired with Alex Hamberger (CWR '08)
  • Donald Feke, vice provost of undergraduate education, paired with Samara McCullough (Case Ballroom Dance Society)
  • Lynmarie Hamel, assistant dean of undergraduate studies, paired with Andy Slimak (Fred Astaire of Northfield)
  • Susan Higgins, head athletic trainer, paired with Frank Zevnik (Fred Astaire of Willoughby)
  • Michael Kenney, senior instructor of chemistry, paired with Shannon Liauw (Let's Dance Cleveland)
  • Ryan Keytack, associate director of undergraduate admission, paired with Bianca Rodriguez (Case Urban Elementz)
  • Shannon Yuhnke , training and support manager for the IT operations group, paired with Justin Chiou (Case Ballroom Dance Society)

Send an e-mail to for more information about the event.

For more information contact Kimyette Finley, 216.368.0521.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, March 19, 2010 11:28 AM | News Topics: Arts & Entertainment, Community Outreach, Faculty, Staff, Students

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