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Dancers have passion if not experience

They give their all to 'Dancing for Tomorrow's Stars,' an event benefiting the Assistance League.

March 21, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Stephanie Argyros practices with her professional dancing partner, Aurimas Petrulevicius, for Dancing for Tomorrow's Stars, an upcoming fundraiser for the Assistance League of Newport-Mesa.
Stephanie Argyros practices with her professional dancing… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

It's time to dip and twirl for the Assistance League of Newport-Mesa.

The 72-year-old nonprofit, which aids children and families via community programs, is organizing an annual ballroom dancing competition. Dancing for Tomorrow's Stars couples community leaders with professional dancers.

The festivities, geared toward raising funds for the Assistance League's local efforts, also feature a cocktail reception, dinner spread and an open dance floor.

"I put together the first [Dancing for Tomorrow's Stars] six years ago, and it was a big hit because it was different from other fundraisers," said Marie-France Lefebvre, vice president of public relations. "This is not a typical cocktail dinner. It's very entertaining and fun."

This year's ballot showcases CBRE Senior Vice President Ray Eldridge; philanthropist Stephanie Argyros; former Miss Universe, actress and author Shawn Weatherly Harris; publisher Christopher Gialanella; sales and real estate professional Gordon Orsborn; and Elizabeth An, founder of Crustacean Beverly Hills and AnQi at South Coast Plaza — all of whom try to raise "points" or funds to stay ahead in the game.

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Argyros is in the lead with $7,240, followed by An with $5,910. Combined, the six competitors have amassed a total of $20,170.

Each year, three men and three women are selected. They perform two dances and vie for the awards of best male dancer and best female dancer. Voting occurs before and during the event, and the pair with the most votes is crowned the fan favorite.

Each vote costs $10.

"The event itself is produced like the TV show 'Dancing with the Stars'. It's as nice a show as that, although we don't have the Hollywood glory," said Lefebvre, 70, of Newport Beach. "It's really neat."

The contestants, finalized in the fall prior to the show, offer their services despite typically having no background in dance. The league has teamed up with dancers from Century Dancesport, a Tustin-based studio, paying for a certain number of classes for each participant.

Once they begin learning routines around Christmas, the community leaders pay for more lessons on an as-needed basis.

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