Two teams took home top honors at the second annual Dancing with the Coastal Stars on Friday, Nov. 2, but the real winner was Samaritan House Family Shelter, the beneficiary of all proceeds from the event.
The Newport Performing Arts Center stage provided the venue for seven teams of amateur dancers to perform before a fully sold-out show and a panel of three judges. Teams began practicing in July with coaches who provided training and choreography.
The dancing duo of Charlie Plybon and Cristen Don were awarded the Mirror Ball Trophy, the event’s grand prize bestowed upon the couple with the highest combination of judge’s points and audience votes. Plybon and Don performed a Broadway-style dance, complete with lifts and tricks that had the audience cheering, and each judge giving them a perfect 10 score.
Nancy Mittleman, Rachel Barreras-Kleeman and Mark Farley were the judges at this year’s event, which was emceed by State Rep. David Gomberg.
The judge’s award was given the team of Doug and Tracy Chadwick for their east coast swing to the sounds of “Portugal. The Man,” a Portland-based rock band. The Chadwicks perfectly-synced footwork and their overall spirited performance led the judge’s to give them an award that only that trio can bestow.
Plybon and Don also took home the People’s Choice Award — presented to the dance team that raised the most money in separate fundraising for Samaritan House. The couple’s supporters contributed $4,945 to the shelter that houses previously-homeless families.
Awards aside, the dancers soaked up extensive applause from an enthusiastic audience. Jonny and Michelle Law were the first to take the stage and wowed the crowd with a county-style swing dance. Birgitte Ryslinge and Robin Gintner, two co-workers at Oregon Coast Community College, showed off their newly acquired Irish figure dancing skills. Rob and Melissa MacDonald provided some spicy heat to the audience’s delight with their sexy salsa. Chris and Julia Carlson executed a sultry Argentine tango with great precision. The evening’s final competitors were Leslie Ogden and William Arens, who delivered a crowd-pleasing combo of hustle, rhumba and cha-cha.
Eleven coaches assisted the teams: Jody Hanna, Jori Bowen, Akia Woods, Gidget Manucci Ashley, Wendy Weimer, Helyn Layton, Nora Sherwood, Rafael, Ellen Mathewson and Bonnie Prater.
“Friday night was a tremendous success, not just for our dancing couples and their coaches, but for Samaritan House and our community,” said Lola Jones, executive director. “For 30 years, Newport has embraced our program and given us the strength to grow. We are so grateful to be able to give the gift of stable housing to our families. When you support Samaritan House through events like this, that gift comes from you,” she added.
After the competition was complete, Jones gave the audience a virtual tour of Samaritan House and shared success stories via a video presentation prepared by Newport High School students. In the evening's final moments, Sophia Solano, a flamenco dance instructor, gave a special performance, accompanied by her father.
Dancing with the Coastal Stars was sponsored by Abel Insurance Agency, Martek Real Estate and Columbia Bank. Support was provided by Dance! And All that Jazz! and Boss Radio. Event ticket-holders also enjoyed a reception of food and beverages — all donated by local businesses and individuals.