Local citizens shine in Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars

Danielle Fox ('13)/Eastside entertainment editor

In its fifth year as one the most successful fundraisers in the Cherry Hill community, the Cherry Hill Education Foundation’s annual Dancing With the Cherry Hill Stars dance competition swept the audience off its feet once again on Sunday, May 6, at the Cherry Hill West Auditorium.

By the end of the night, the proceeds totaled a colossal 48,000 dollars, which will be put towards grants given by the Cherry Hill Education Foundation. The couple awarded with raising the most money was couple number 16, Jenny Ryan, a volunteer consultant for various organizations, and Joe DeMarco, the owner of DeMarco Dance Center.

Taking the award for the best overall dance was East’s own alum and math teacher Ms. Susan Nicolazzo, who danced with Billy Hart, a professional choreographer. The couple danced to Christina Aguilera’s song “Candy Man.” When she was a student at East, Nicolazzo was an avid member of the cheerleading squad and also pursued a love of dance outside of school. Seeing her on the stage tonight, it was obvious that she had past experience. One of the judges commented, “I couldn’t tell which one was the star.”

Francis Mazeika and Debbie Rider, an occupational therapist and a ballroom dancer, respectively, won the award of “Most Creative,” while Chi Ewusi and Christopher Pawling, the only couple with two professional ballroom dancers, won the award of “Most Technical.”

Though the couple did not win an award, East student Kayla Livecchi (’13) represented the East student body as she danced with her partner Ben Andris, a junior at Cherry Hill West.

The commentary of the evening provided a nice balance between the humor of East teacher Mr. Greg Gagliardi, the event’s emcee for the past four years and contestant during its first year, and the prestige of the four judges. Arnie Silver has been part of the management team of the Rock group Kiss, and has toured with Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar and Billy Idol. Marjie Major is the owner and director of Happy Feet Dance Studio in Cherry Hill and is the first winner of Cherry Hill’s Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars competition. Michael Boyd has directed the European Tours of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “West Side Story.” Shelby Smith coaches the Varsity Cheerleading and Dance Teams at Cherry Hill West and has been a professional cheerleader for the NBA since 2001.

The East Jazz Standards Group joined forces with the West Dance Team to provide entertainment during the breaks throughout the show.

Since 2008, Dancing With the Cherry Hill Stars has successfully brought together the community to enjoy a night of dance and fun. Seeing that the competition did take place on a Sunday evening, it seems apt to say that the audience really did cut loose and kick off their Sunday shoes.