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News : Entertainment May 17, 2015 - 8:42:08 AM

Curtain Call's Dancing Stars event breaks records

By Curtain Call

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Winner of the JUDGES' CHOICE AWARD (Male division) at Curtain Call's 8th Annual Dancing with the Stars event, John Spoto and Justyna Masajlo. Spoto also captured the PEOPLES' CHOICE AWARD (male division) at the event. (contributed photo)
Amidst noise-makes, placards and banners akin to an old-fashioned political convention, a crowd of nearly 900 jumped to its feet in appreciation of 11 community leaders stepping out of their comfort zones at Curtain Call’s Dancing With The Stars on Saturday, May 16.

Holly Hyman (STAMFORD), a nursery school teacher, along with her professional dance partner, Lou Lopez (from Latin Moves Dance Studio), danced with a child-like exuberance and received the JUDGES' CHOICE AWARD (female division) at Curtain Call’s eighth annual fundraiser held at the Palace Theatre, Stamford. (Lopez has donated his services for every dancing stars event that Curtain Call has hosted!)

John Spoto, (STAMFORD), of John Spoto Plumbing and heating, flushed his competition away as he and his professional dance partner Justyna Masajlo (from Magic Dance Studio) received the JUDGES' CHOICE AWARD (male division). In recognition of his outstanding fundraising efforts for the event, Spoto also received the PEOPLES’ CHOICE AWARD (male division).

Stamford native and owner of Noble Salon, Maureen Clark Newlove, styled her own win by taking home the PEOPLES' CHOICE AWARD (female division) with her professional dance partner, Moises Guerrero, an Arthur Murray instructor.

Assist Police Chief Jim Matheny , seen here with professional dance partner Meredith Landphair, recieved the FRIENDRAISER AWARD for having the greatest number of supporters involved with Curtain Call's 8th Annual Dancing with the Stars event. (contributed photo)
Jim Matheny, (STAMFORD), assistant police chief for the City of Stamford, received the FRIEND-RAISER AWARD for getting the most individuals to participate in this annual gathering. Matheny was partnered with Meredith Landphair of Dance With Me, Stamford. Matheny's arresting performance, including two incredible new-slides, was cheered on by the ecstatic crowds.

This fun-filled fundraiser began at UConn Stamford with a cocktail party feting all of the dancers. A wide array of food and beverage were provided by Bank Street Events, Bar Rosso, Columbus Park Trattoria, David's Soundview Catering, DiMare Pastry Shop, EOS Greek Cuisine, Eventi Cafe, Greenwich Staffing, Marcia Selden Catering, Myrna's Kitchen, napa & co., Nutty Bunny, Parkway Diner, Palmer's Market, Riko’s Pizza, Sushi Village, Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes, The Capital Grille, The Water’s Edge at Giovanni’s, Broken Shed Vodka, Crystal Rock, Slocum and Sons Wines, and Heineken.

Winner of the JUDGES' CHOICE AWARD (Female division) at Curtain Call's 8th Annual Dancing with the Stars event, Holly Hyman and Lou Lopez. (contributed photo)
"Each year I am totally overwhelmed by the community’s support for this event," said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call's Executive Director. "With so many arts organizations locally and nationally struggling financially, we know how very fortunate we are to keep our lights burning," he said.This year's event was the largest ever for the organization with more people in attendance, the largest event journal (156 pages) and the most money raised: more than $150,000. "The economy is still very challenging for nonprofit organizations so it takes special events like this to help keep us in the black,” Ursone noted. Arts funding at the State level has been greatly reduced over the past several years leaving funding gaps for many local arts organizations.

For this year's event, in addition to Hyman, Matheny, Newlove and Spoto, other participants included Philip Bender, Managing Partner,Northwestern Mutual, with Karen Casagrande, founder, Hot Shoes Dance; Melissa DeSousa, General Manager, David’s Soundview Catering, with Radek Rogowski, Magic Dance Studio; Nikki Glekas, Owner, EOS Greek Cuisine & Bank Street Events, with Primo Garcia, Dance With Me, Stamford; P. J. Kennedy. Blogger, Hey, Stamford!, with Kelly Butler, Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich; Dr. Edward Schuster, MD, Stamford Hospital, with Simone Assboeck, Latin Moves Dance Studio; Greta Wagner, EVP / Executive Director, Chelsea Piers CT., with Cameron Johnson, Chelsea Piers Dance Academy; and Deena Youngs, Household CEO and Director or Children Activities, New Canaan, with Ted Thomas, New England Academy of Dance.

Local salon owner, Maureen Clark Newlove, seen here with her professional dance partner, Moises Guerrero, took home the PEOPLES' CHOICE AWARD (female division) at .Curtain Call's 8th Annual Dancing with the Stars event (contributed photo)
Co-chairs for the event were Robin Selden and Jami Sherwood, both of Stamford. Each is a Curtain Call Board member and was a volunteer Star Dancer at a prior dancing stars event. Sherwood said "Dancing in 2008 was such an incredible experience...I never thought I would have so much fun doing this. It has made getting each year's line-up of volunteer Star Dancers psyched, very easy," she added. Selden noted that "Each of our volunteer dancers, amateur and professional alike, were completely committed to this event and that made our jobs so much easier." Selden is responsible for corralling her colleagues in the hospitality industry to provide the incredible array of food and drink offered each year at the pre-show cocktail party.

We hope to make each year's event even bigger and better." Ursone said, noting that many new civic leaders have already come forth volunteering to participate next year. "I can’t wait to see next year's line-up of Star Dancers, but one won’t be me" he added with a smile. "And, they've got some pretty big dancing shoes to fill, too," he said.

"A major part of this event – patterned after the popular television show - is the video component which included behind the scenes rehearsal footage," Ursone said.Volunteers, David Klein, Robbie Sherwood and William Squier masterminded the production of the videos that showed the dancers laughing at themselves through the rehearsal process. Judges for the event included Jimmy Locust, owner, Locust Performing Arts Center, and Maureen Pavia, director, Dancing Classrooms, each who participated at prior Dancing With The Stars events, were joined by newcomer, Ben Frimmer, a long-time Curtain Call director, performer and theatre educator.

"Planning for this year's event started the day after we held our last event," said Sherwood. Other committee members included: co-chair, Diane Arditti, Emily Bonenfant, Bob Callahan, Lynne Colatrella, Nicole Faugno, JoAnn Latorraca, Lisa Maronian, Betsy Mercede, Lori Mercede, Bill Squier, Jan Ursone, Lou Ursone and Gail Yudain. "Our board, staff and a large group of amazing volunteers continue to make this event the premier special event in the area each year," Ursone said. More than 50 volunteers were on hand to make this event flow smoothly.

"As a life-long Stamford resident and member of the arts community here, I can't tell you how exciting it is to see this outpouring of support from our community to help keep our community theatre strong," Ursone said. Beginning in September 2015, Curtain Call will kick off it's 25th Anniversary Season. Since 1972, live theatrical productions have been presented at Sterling Farms, the home of Curtain Call since 1992.The new season for the organization will feature a 3,000 square foot addition to their cabaret-style venue, The Dressing Room Theatre.

Curtain Call is the nonprofit community-based theatre company in residence at the Sterling Farms complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue in Stamford. Year-round productions and workshops are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre as well as outdoors on the great lawn for its annual Shakespeare on the Green presentations. Curtain Call has been voted Fairfield County's BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP every year since 2005 in the Annual Readers' Poll of The Fairfield County Weekly as well as BEST LOCAL THEATRE and BEST PERFORMING ARTS GROUP by StamfordPlus and Stamford Magazine, respectively, for the past several years. Curtain Call also received The Governor's Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism - 2011. In a statewide Facebook poll in August 2012, Curtain Call was the state's favorite theatre site.

For more information on upcoming shows, workshops and daytime summer youth programs, call 203-329-8207x11 or go online to

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