By Michael Balderston
Forget Alfonso Riberio pulling out “The Carlton” on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” come see 84-year-old Florence Ridderhof bust out her best moves at the second “Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars.”
Ridderfhof and nine other local Fredericksburg leaders will lace up their dancing shoes as they vie for their own Mirror Ball Trophy while helping to raise money for University of Mary Washington‘s performing arts department.
The contestants will be the first to tell you it’s not as easy as it looks on TV, either. They have spent the last four months learning and practicing dance routines, but according to Lisa Crittenden, that may not have been enough time.
“I need another two months,” jokes Crittenden, executive director of Hope House, a homeless shelter for mother with children.
The contestants have all put in a ton of work to prepare with dance instructors Michael and Melissa Scott from Strictly Ballroom Dance Studio, who will also serve as the dance partners for each competitor.
“It’s not something any of us do all the time,” says Ridderhof, the competition’s oldest competitor. “Ballroom dancing is very different than just dancing, it’s very precise.”
“Ballroom dancing was something I didn’t have any interest in,” says John Moss, a partner at the Fredericksburg law firm Rinehart, Butler, Hodge, Moss & Bryant, PLC. “Now I’ve done a complete 180.”
Through tickets, private donations and sponsors, the University of Mary Washington will fund the creation of of a UMW Performing Arts in the Community Scholarship. The scholarship will benefit full-time students from the Fredericksburg region in good academic standing and who excel in either music, theatre or dance. Last year’s event grossed around $65,000, about half of which went to performing arts scholarships.
The contestants said they know the value the performing arts have on the community, and they are happy that they get to contribute to it.
“Anything to do with music, dance, poetry, anything like that to me feeds the soul,” says Ridderhof. “It’s an important part of life and I just want to keep the steam and not just stand.”
It’s been a rewarding experience for the participants, but that isn’t preventing them from being nervous about their big performance.
“I just want to finish the thing,” says Moss. “I put a 75 percent chance of finishing the thing without messing up.”
“Mentally, you’re trying to prepare yourself to just have fun, that’s what it’s all about,” says Crittenden. “But I want to win.”
Audience members can have their say in that. The Mirror Ball Trophy winner will be determined by a panel of judges, but there will also be a People’s Choice winner determined by the audience. So come out and see which of Fredericksburg stars has the best moves.
The full slate of dancers include Regis Keddie II, Terrie Crawley, Joe Wilson, Janel Donohue, John Fick, Debby Girvan, John Wack, Moss, Crittenden and Ridderhof.
Tickets are still available to purchase for $85, but $75 is tax deductible. Come and unleash your inner-Bruno.
Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars
Saturday, Oct. 11
Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall