Monday, June 15, 2009

Life's A Dance!

From (Pensacola, Florida):
Local celebs find rhythm for Covenant Hospice fundraiser

The rhythm is irresistible.

As music thumps through the Fred Astaire Dance Studio on Bayou Blvd., Teri Levin, co-owner of Levin-Rinke Resort Realty, is swept off her feet. Dance partner Victor Luna lifts Levin over his head, and spins her in the air.

Nearby dancers applaud, then get back to the sweaty business of rehearsing for Life's a Dance.

The dance extravaganza, taking place from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Saenger Theatre, will feature an all-star cast of national and local celebrities. Proceeds will benefit Covenant Hospice.

Luna, an award-winning dancer who runs the Pensacola studio with partner Dawn Westberry, described it as "an amazing evening of dance."

The event is divided into two parts — a dance competition with local notables such as Levin, Roy Jones Jr. and WEAR- Channel 3 TV anchor Sue Straughn — and a showcase featuring performers from the hit TV series "Dancing with the Stars," including Tony Dovolani, Elena Grinenko, Fabian Sanchez and Mark Ballas.

"Pensacola has never seen anything like this," Luna said. "These are some of the best dancers in the world coming to entertain us."

Tony Dovolani, who is friends with Luna, said that he loved visiting the Pensacola area.

"Some places are made by the people," the Connecticut-based dancer said. "Everyone here has a smile on their face."

Dovolani will not only perform during "Life's a Dance," but help judge the local competitors.

"I will be looking for the passion," he said. "That's very important."

Levin, who won top honors at Ballet Pensacola's "Dancing with the Stars" showcase in April, is ready to strut her stuff.

"I never had formal dance lessons growing up, but I've discovered a real love for it," said Levin, who will partner with Luna for a slinky tango. "And this event benefits such a wonderful cause. I couldn't say no."

Leah Harrison is a development manager with Covenant Hospice, a nonprofit organization which provides services to patients and their families during times of life-limiting illnesses.

She hopes that "Life's a Dance" will be a roaring success.

"It's a great way for us to raise money for our underfunded programs," Harrison said. "But it also shines a light on a healthy, mood-lifting activity that we endorse."

Luna, a top rated dance instructor, said that the evening should serve as inspiration to the community.

"Everyone loves to dance, and anyone can learn," he said. "Left feet, no feet, no rhythm, whatever. I can teach just about anyone."

Sue Straughn, who will perform a waltz with Luna during the competition, didn't share her partner's confidence, but is set to do her best. Whatever that may be.

"I'll get out there and do whatever it is I'm going to do, but it may not be a waltz," she said, laughing. "It will be something to see, though."

Additional Facts - Want to go?

- WHAT: Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Pensacola presents "Life's a Dance," benefitting Covenant Hospice.- WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Monday.
- WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox Place.
- DANCERS: Performers from the TV series, "Dancing with the Stars": Tony Dovolani, Elena Grinenko, Georgia Ambarian, Eric Luna, Fabian Sanchez, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas. Local celebrity dancers: Sue Straughn, Teri Levin, Greg Litton, Roy Jones Jr., Leslie Ingram, Anita Ingram, Dan Brask and Malcolm Ballinger.
- COST: Tickets are $75, general admission; $150, VIP (includes entrance to post-show party). Available at the Saenger box office, all Ticketmaster locations, online at or by phone at 434-7444.- DETAILS: 208-7122.

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