Monday, March 18, 2013

Dancing with the Staff Returns by Elizabeth Richards

On Thursday, March 14, teachers and staff of RSU 14 presented round one of the third annual Dancing with the Staff to a packed auditorium to raise money to benefit the class of 2013 Project Graduation.

The show opened with introductions of the ten couples – some returning from past years, others making their stage debut. As they played to the huge crowd, energy in the auditorium was high. Master of Ceremonies Bill Ellis and the panel of judges offered witty, unscripted banter throughout the evening. The show moved smoothly between dances, each lively and unique, spanning a wide range of styles. Dancers participate for a variety of reasons, but it all comes back to teachers and staff being invested in the students, said director Mary Wassick.

Wassick created Dancing With The Staff three years ago, when she had a child in the graduating class. The idea, she said frankly, was “stolen” from a senior in high school in Westbrook, who was planning a similar event in her community.
Dancer recruitment wasn’t as difficult as it was the first year, said Wassick. “There was still an amount of begging and bribery involved, but I really did have couples come to me this year.” She began with a first meeting for dancers in September. Many participants met with their volunteer choreographers and began practicing as early as November, while others started just a few weeks prior to the event. 

Dancing with the Staff has made over $10,000 each year, which remains the target. “This year I think we’ll probably blow that one out of the water,” said Wassick, “only because of local business advertising with us.” This year, ad sales were close to $4000, and ticket sales are slated to go over $10,000.
While that may seem like a huge amount of money, Wassick said that the bills for Project Graduation are extremely high – in the $30,000 range. “I’m not sure people realize how much work goes into Project Graduation,” she said. Project Graduation, an after-graduation event for all seniors, is not part of the school budget. Instead, parents spend the whole year fundraising and working on the event. This year, the Project Graduation committee has just six members, including highly dedicated co-chairs Mary Anne MacArthur and Linda Nielsen, said Wassick.

The first year, Dancing With The Staff had an elimination component, which didn’t feel quite right Wassick said. This year, all ten couples will return for another dance at the March 28th finale. The top three on the 14th were Rebecca Cole & Travis Guerette; Andrea Lavigne & Adam Beal and Kelly Bragdon & Ted Becker. Although there is a panel of judges, the winner is decided entirely by the audience. The ballots from the 28th will be combined with those from the 14th, and the popular vote wins. Fans can also “like” their favorite act on the event’s Facebook page, and the one with the most likes will receive 10 extra votes.

“You can tell by just being there, the event itself is such a community event,” said Wassick. “It really brings together our staff and our parents in a really fun way.” The biggest issue that arose at the show on the 14th was last minute scrambling to find places for people to sit, a good problem to have, Wassick said. For the finale on the 28th, she suggests buying tickets in advance at any RSU 14 school, and then arriving early to get a great seat.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.