Local celebrities buckle down to perfect dances | SummitDaily.com

Local celebrities buckle down to perfect dances

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
Summit daily news

Summit Daily/Eric DrummondMandy Moore in action at last year's Dancing With the Mountain Stars event.

Sen. Dan Gibbs has stood in front of hundreds of people and discussed political issues. He has battled fires on the front lines. But doing the rumba in front of more than 550 people is “by far the scariest experience” he has faced, he said.

Gibbs is one of 10 local celebrities who’ve been learning how to dance for the last six weeks, in order to perform in front of judges at Saturday’s Dancing with the Mountain Stars, a benefit for St. Anthony Summit Medical Center’s 10-bed wing expansion.

“(The dance) is way out of my comfort zone,” Gibbs said, adding, “but, if I’m going to embarrass myself, it might as well be for a good cause.”

Gibbs has discovered, by his own admission, that he has hips – which can sway and move plenty. And, he’s rumored to throw a little Michael Jackson magic into his routine.

Meanwhile, all the other amateur dancers are polishing their acts, so that when their professional dance partners from Los Angeles arrive today, they’re ready to rumba (or salsa, or tango, or cha cha, as the case may be).

Mandy Moore, who grew up in Summit and now lives in L.A. and works as a choreographer for the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” is critiquing all of the dancers this week; she’s adding more difficult elements to routines, or simplifying them, depending on how each local celebrity is progressing.

Recommended Stories For You

“This is the first big test – to perform in front of Mandy,” said local dance instructor Roger Moen. “They’ve come 85 percent of how far they’re going to get, and now we’re going to add the next 15 percent.”

Moore will also choreograph a six-minute group routine, which will feature all of the professional dancers (who happen to be her good friends).

“Last year, it was an amazing showstopper,” said Pam Churman, dance competition coordinator. “That’s why so many people are coming back this year.”

Local dance teachers, such as Teresa and Roger Moen, Stephanie Roller Bruner and Debbie Swartz, will continue to work with the local celebrities, as they have done in the past five weeks. But, this week, they’re emphasizing things like arm extension and facial expression.

“I tell them to play the audience, be a drama queen for the day – and relax and have fun,” said Teresa Moen.

So, why do locals put themselves through the learning challenge?

“I’m a sucker for fundraisers,” said longtime local and ski instructor Freda Langell.

“I’m a sucker for fun,” replied Rae Anderson.