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The Suburbanite
  • ‘A must-do event’ Dancing with Canton’s Stars 2012

  • Carla Derr had a hunch her idea might be successful, a Dancing With Canton’s Stars fundraiser for the Palace Theatre with local luminaries as the celebrity contestants.

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  • Carla Derr had a hunch her idea might be successful, a Dancing With Canton’s Stars fundraiser for the Palace Theatre with local luminaries as the celebrity contestants.
    Her hunch was correct. Last November’s event attracted more than 850 spectators and raised more than $14,000 for the ornate downtown Canton theater.
    Is it any wonder, then, that a second annual Dancing With the Canton Stars is just around the corner? The show, with 13 new couples competing, will be Nov. 17 at the Palace.
    Things have changed a bit this year. Unlike the first show, when local notables were approached and cajoled into participating, show organizer Derr had people lining up to be in this year’s cast.
    “The night of (last year’s) show, I had people coming up to me saying, ‘I have to do this next year,’ ” Derr said. “I already have people that want to do it next year. It’s craziness but it’s fun. It’s become a big must-do event.”
    For the second year, Derr is being assisted by Carl Damiani, who is in charge of the skilled dancing partners. “Carl and those dancers he brings in really feel (the show) is a reflection on their dancing, and they don’t want to look bad,” she said. “The professionals make sure that the amateurs look fabulous, just like they do on the TV show.”
    Compared to 2011, this year’s Dancing With Canton’s Stars has inspired more teasing rivalry between contestants. “I know Nancy Reinbold and Allen Schulman have had a lot of competition between their offices. It’s been a lot of fun,” Derr said.
    A FORMER CHEERLEADER
    “I am very competitive and I do know (the winner) is about who raises the most money,” said contestant Kim Labriola, an early childhood consultant with Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health. “It’s going to be a really fun event. It’s been a lot of practice and commitment, but it’s been a great way to get into shape.”
    Labriola, who said the closest thing she’s done to this show was cheerleading during her days at GlenOak High, will be doing a cha-cha tango routine with her partner, Damiani.
    “The dance is very flirty and fun,” she promises. “Carl is so patient, thank goodness, because I’m sure I push him over the edge sometimes. I’m not the most graceful person in the world.”
    TRIAL LAWYER FOXTROTS
    Allen Schulman, a prominent local attorney and president of Canton City Council, said his wife, Chrissy, volunteered him for Dancing With Canton’s Stars. “It’s a great honor to be invited and I’m actually having a lot of fun, although it is frightening,” he said.
    Page 2 of 3 - For Schulman, the thought of dancing onstage for an audience is not unlike “walking into a courtroom and not knowing anything about your trial,” he said. “But it is enormously enjoyable. It’s entertaining and good exercise and not a punishing exercise.”
     His dance partner, Kim McNamara, “ has been a doll. She is a superb dancer,” he said. “I figure at the very least if I don’t know what I’m doing she will lead me around and I will follow her.” The pair are doing a playful fox trot routine to Frank Sinatra’s “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” that involves his raincoat and her umbrella.
    FUNKY AT 78
    “We’re doing sort of a funky tango,” said Jane Vignos, 78, of the routine she’ll be dancing onstage with her partner Jack Wadsworth, 69.  Yes, they are the elders in the cast.
    “Long before I got into politics,” said Vignos, a former Stark County commissioner, “I took a lot of dance lessons from a local studio, Margaret Appell. I took from her until I graduated high school, then I was a student teacher there. I taught ballet and tap and Spanish and what they used to call modern dance in those days.”
    A lot has happened since then. Vignos raised seven children. She was employed at the Stark County Board of Elections from 1980 to 1991, then served two terms as county recorder and two terms as commissioner. Prior to signing on for Dancing With Canton’s Stars, she hadn’t danced in “a long, long while.”
    But, oh, she’s been having fun with Wadsworth, her partner. “He’s a ball,” she said. “We’ve been practicing twice a week. We think we’re ready. With a dance background, you pick up steps pretty quickly. I just don’t want to embarrass myself.”
    Vignos sounds remarkably fit. “I teach strength training classes to seniors at the Hall of Fame Fitness Center,” she said. “I’m an exerciser and a weight trainer. I do push-ups.”
    LASTING PARTNERSHIP
    A competitive ballroom dancer, choreographer, dance instructor and co-owner of the Andrew Fulmer Dance Studio, Jonathan Green knows his stuff. So when he described his “Dancing With Canton’s Stars” partner, Shaina Lutz, as “probably the best dancer I’ve ever met in my life,” he was saying something.
    “Shaina has been great. She’s an incredible dancer. She went to college for dance. She’s by far the most experienced (‘star’),” Green said. Their routine, a cha-cha danced to Adele’s “Rumor Has It,” is “flirtatious, with lots of teasing playfulness between the two of us,” he said. “It’s a very sexy dance.”
    The dancers’ collaboration won’t end after the Palace show. “She plans to compete after this,” Green said. “We’re going to be going to a few competitions as a partnership.”
    Page 3 of 3 - MAYOR’S GOT MOVES
    It was Monica Gwin, the winner of last year’s Dancing With Canton’s Stars, who suggested Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro- Perry for the 2012 edition. “They called me and said it’s just like the TV show, you get a partner and you get to wear a pretty dress, plus I’d always wanted to ballroom dance,” Perry said.
    Asked about dance experience, Perry laughed and said, “I was a majorette at (Perry) high school and I have coached cheerleading for years, but that’s very different. Cheerleading is crisp, tight and clean, and in ballroom you’re supposed to relax and bend and be elegant and graceful.”
    Perry and her partner, Rob McNamara — “he is fabulous” — will be dancing a routine about which she is disclosing no details. “It’s an absolute surprise,” she said. “I haven’t even told my family.” She should have a big cheering section at the Palace; her husband, Tony, bought 40 Dancing tickets.
    “I’m learning to be graceful, and I’ve lost a few pounds. My staff is encouraging me to eat healthy,” Perry said. “I’ve been trying to practice in my spare time, which there’s not a lot of. I’m trying to run a city here!”