Dancing With Missouri Stars

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Contemporary Ballet is hosting the 8th Annual Dancing with Missouri Stars competition Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Southwell Complex on the Columbia College campus.

For the first time, the eight mid-Missouri celebrities each will pair up with a Missouri Contemporary Ballet professional. In the past, the celebrities had partnered up with instructors and dancers at local ballroom studios in Columbia.

"It's been a huge success. The celebrities have really gotten to know our dancers really well, and I think it kind of hits a bit closer to home. They really understand that it is a really good cause that their raising money for, and why we do actually need the funds to operate every year," Director of Operations Joanne Sandorfi said.

The celebrities each recieved 20, one-hour lessons with their partners over a three month period.

"They start to train and figure out how to move as dancers, and a lot of them even come in and take other dance classes, or they're more conscious of it and will try to go to classes at the gym just to be kind of more aware of their body," Sandorfi said

All proceeds of the event go toward funding the Missouri Contemporary Ballet's upcoming season. Sandorfi said their goal every year is to raise $100,000. Last year, they met their goal, and Sandorfi said they are nearly at that mark again.

There are two overall winners in the competition, one selected by the fans and the other selected by the judges.

Last years' winner was Joni See and the judges choice award was Marti Waigandt. The Missouri Contemporary Ballet picks one of these two to come back and judge the next year. 

This year's judges are Marti Waigandt, Norm Reubling and Hettie Barnhill.

KOMU 8's own Megan Judy will be the emcee of the event. 

Here's a list of this year's celebrities and their partners (Celebrities are in bold):

Ryan Schultz & Jordan Mazur 
Nema Velia & Alex J. Gordon 
Greg Jagdfeld & Caroline Millikin Euker 
Beth McClure & Joshua Hasam 
Shelby Ringdahl & Joel Hathaway
Nikki Burton & Fernando Rodriguez 
Joe Miller & Emily Baker
Ted Willmore & Caitlin Younker

Visit the Missouri Contemporary Ballet website for more information on all of the celebrities.