By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
A waltz was perhaps the last thing Dan Thompson envisioned himself doing.
The world of dancing is culturally far-removed from the former Indiana University tight end’s world of chip blocks and first down receptions. Physically, however, the demands are similar.
Thompson parlayed his athletic acumen into a win at the 2012 Dancing Like the Stars competition at the Paramount Theatre. This year, Thompson joined with other former winners Saturday for a reunion dance at the 2013 event.
The event, which has grown each of the five years of its existence, pairs local celebrities with instructors from around central Indiana in a competition modeled after the TV show “Dancing With the Stars.”
Kay Anderson, co-chairperson of the event, said a nearly full house filed in for the event, estimating 1,000 viewers at the theater. The competition has developed from a relatively exclusive event held in a ballroom of the theater its first two years to an evening featuring 13 dancers on the theater stage.
A panel of judges selects a dance and instructor for an award, and a second award is given based on a popular vote of the audience.
Saturday night, the judges chose Beth Erskine, who works at the Hopewell Center, and her instructor Ed Godby-Schwab of Lapel. Dr. Kash Rahman of St. Vincent’s Health System and his instructor Yulia Shook, a clear fan-favorite throughout the evening, won the people’s choice award. Rahman was joined by his daughter Laura on stage to receive his trophy.
“I’ll probably never see (the trophy) again,” Rahman said jokingly as the trophy was handed to his daughter.
Thompson, who won the people’s choice award in 2012, said that while the entire enterprise was out of his comfort zone, it was a positive experience for a good cause. The funds raised from ticket sales go toward maintaining the Paramount.
“When you really think about while we’re all doing this, it’s for the Paramount,” Thompson said. “It’s truly a centerpiece of Anderson, and when you’re trying to revitalize an area, you need places like this to make it happen.”
Monica Lung, an instructor from New Palestine, guided Thompson to victory in 2012. She worked with Phil Lavelle Jr. this year.
Lung said Thompson’s athletic background made it possible for him to win.
“We used his experience being on the field,” Lung said. “He took coaching very well. He knew the rigors of practicing and he has height and strength. He could easily pick me up, and he’s good at angling.”
Damon Stansberry of Elwood and his instructor Sara Pitcher of Fishers said they agreed that the event was a commitment.
“It’s been a lot of fun but challenging at times,” Stansberry said. “I should be nervous, but I’m not.”
Pitcher has been an instructor in the event four times. She said Stansberry’s patience set him apart from the field.
“He’s been doing very well. I really challenged him,” Pitcher said.
Patty Kuhn, another past winner joining Thompson in the reunion dance, said she’s proud of how the event has developed over the years. She said she was glad to see the theater alive with activity.
“It was such a highlight for me when I won, and a great experience,” Kuhn said. “It’s always a good thing to be a part of a fundraiser like this that goes to a good cause.”
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