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Fox/Cannizzaro team up for show

By Staff | Oct 29, 2014

Marble King's CEO Beri Fox and New Martinsville's Bartolo Cannizzaro of the Academy of Dance and Theatre Arts will compete Saturday. (Photo by Bennett McKinley)

What do the chief of police, a banker, a photographer, a former cheerleader, a doctor, a news anchor, a coach, a CEO, a senator, and an arts enthusiast have in common? They are all “stars” set to dance in Season Four of Dancing with the Ohio Valley Stars. The charity event to benefit Augusta Levy Learning Center is a take-off on the popular television show and promises to be a night of spectacular dancing and fun. There will be a panel of celebrity judges, exhibition dances by professionals, and a fierce yet friendly spirit of competition.

This year’s cast includes Owner and CEO of Marble King Beri Fox dancing with Bartolo Cannizzaro of The Academy of Dance and Theatre Arts, OVAC Coach of the Year Justin Clifford dancing with Mandy Doyle from Turn It Out Dance Academy (TIO), WTRF news anchor Laurie Conway dancing with Augusta Levy’s own Chad Onifer, Dr. Jamie Etzel dancing with Ryan Posey of TIO, W.Va. and Wheeling Arts Commission member Susan Hogan dancing with Caleb Cooper of Take a Bow Dance Centre (TAB), photographer Bennett McKinley dancing with Chelsea Loy of TAB, WesBanco branch manager John Rataiczak dancing with Lindsey Bugaj of TIO, Chief of Police Shawn Schwertfeger dancing with Devyn Stidd of TAB, owner of Security Travel and former WVU cheerleader Patrick Viola dancing with Lacey Baker of TIO, and W.Va. Senator Jack Yost dancing with Kristin McCombs of the Dance Workshop.

Like nearly all of the contestants, Harrison Central Assistant Principal and Coach Justin Clifford admits that he has no former dance experience and may “embarrass himself.” However, he is quick to add, “I have really enjoyed the experience thus far and am honored to be a part of such a great event that does so many great things for the kids.” Photographer Bennett McKinley echoes Clifford’s sentiments, stating, “Despite lacking grace and agility, I’ve already had a lot of fun practicing. It’s wonderful to see such enthusiasm for a great cause and I’m genuinely looking forward to the event.”

The contestants are paired with professional dance partners and have six weeks to learn one ballroom dance that they will perform the night of the event. Former executive director of the Wheeling Symphony Susan Hogan remarked, “This experience has been a myriad of laughter, hard work, angst, fun, and beauty.” Augusta Levy Learning Center executive director Kathy Shapell said, “Participating in Dancing with the Ohio Valley Stars really takes a commitment from our stars and dance instructors.

For most, it takes them out of their comfort zone and asks them to learn something new and then perform it in front of a crowd of people. I can’t thank them enough for their tremendous dedication to and support of the center and would encourage the community to come out and support these stars for a great cause.” Hogan said, “Stepping outside the comfort zone has broken down physical and emotional barriers that were just silly. In addition to the laughter and unadulterated fun, I managed to lose eight pounds.”

Shapell added, “We also want to thank our very generous sponsors: Ziegenfelder’s, Cassidy, Cogan, Shapell and Voegelin, Woodbine House, Main Street Bank, OVMC, and Murray Energy Corporation. Without them, this event would not be possible.” All proceeds from the event will go to providing direct services to young children with autism who attend the center.

Shapell explained, “The majority of children who enter our program cannot speak. They cannot understand language. They are frustrated by their lack of communication skills and develop behaviors as a way to cope and express themselves. They often don’t sleep well. They may have eating issues and gastrointestinal issues that affect everything else they do. They are often rigid in their routine and fall apart when those routines are interrupted. However, with early diagnosis and effective treatment, children have a genuine opportunity to dramatically reduce the symptoms of their autism and lead a productive life.” The center specializes in an evidence-based treatment called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), where children receive 35 hours a week of 1:1 intensive intervention.

This is the fourth year for Dancing with the Ohio Valley Stars, which continues to grow every year. The event sold out in its first two years, prompting the Levy Center to move the event to the Capitol Theatre last year where the dancers performed in front of a crowd of 750 people. Organizers are hoping to attract 1,000 patrons this year.

Dancing with the Ohio Valley Stars will be held on Nov. 1st at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets are $30 and are available at WesBanco Arena and at www.capitoltheatrewheeling.com. Tickets will be available the night of the show beginning at 6 p.m.

For those wanting to make an evening of it, a pre-party will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Capitol Theatre Ballroom with catering by Ye Olde Alpha and a cash bar. Tickets for the pre-party are limited and reservations are required. Tickets can be purchased for $20 at Augusta Levy Learning Center. For more information, patrons should call 304-242-6722.