Whether you’re an avid devotee or new to ballroom dancing, most people have heard of the hit series Dancing With The Stars. Annually, we hold our own version of the competition, combined with our Silent Auction benefiting the Sunshine Kids.

We don’t pair up amateur celebrities with professional dancers, however. Dancing With Our Stars is three rounds made up entirely of our professional staff. But of course, we have to have some twist to it. That’s part of the excitement!

Scores are a mixture of in-studio voting and scores given by students we asked to be Guest Judges for each evening. The winners’ names get engraved onto our famous Mirror Ball trophy, complete with bragging rights for the year.

The first two rounds consisted of Smooth and Rhythm — but they were randomly assigned pairings. No professional dance partners are allowed to dance together, and they are only allowed to dance Arthur Murray school figures. So it is exactly what our students are learning!

The judges for our first two rounds were Angie D. and Jerry R. from our Cranford studio, and Faith L. from our Hillsborough studio. Dances were also randomly assigned. (Waltz, Tango, or Foxtrot for our Smooth round, and Cha Cha, Rumba, or Swing for our Rhythm round.) Our judges gave feedback on each dance, just as judges at a Freestyles or Medal Ball would. Scores were close, even starting the night on a back-to-back Waltz spree. Thankfully, Rhythm heated things back up.

Our Finale featured professional dance partnerships that our staff would compete with. These routines were choreographed and practiced for months together. Our Finale night was also televised on a local Cranford station to help us promote our Silent Auction and Theater Showcase Night, benefiting The Sunshine Kids. All proceeds from the show plus our Silent Auction went directly to them.

The special Guest Judges for our Finale round on July 27th were Karen H. and Barbara G. from our Cranford studio, and Marianne M. from our Hillsborough studio. Scores were even tighter as the polish in each of the performances was clear. Each professional pair did one of their competition numbers, plus original numbers that had never before been shown to any public.

The creativity in each number was obvious. Highlights include an Indiana Jones number complete with a whip, recreating Marilyn Monroe’s famous flying skirt scene, some stunning lifts and shocking drops, and a particularly memorable number with a man in a dress and a woman in a mustache.

Judges’ scores remained tight through all three rounds, so it came down to the popular vote. Chris and Kate from Cranford ended up earning the right to put their names, for the first time, on the coveted Mirror Ball trophy for 2018.

Chris & Kate with the Mirror Ball trophies.

A recap program of our Finale night can be found here online, courtesy of Channel 35 in Cranford.