Now in its 22nd season, “Dancing With the Stars” continues to charm viewers who imagine themselves accepting the challenge of performing with a professional in front of a live audience in a décolleté feathered ball gown or sequined lime tuxedo.
The adrenaline, the stage fright and the physicality of performing for judges make it a challenge just to remember the routine. And recall what was said about Ginger Rogers “performing everything backwards and in high heels.”
At a local level, some Atlanta Jewish leaders are jitterbugging up to the plate to use big dance programs as platforms to raise thousands of dollars for charity.
Ted Blum, a Dunwoody resident and the managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office, has been training to compete in Atlanta’s Celebrity Dance Challenge, scheduled for Thursday, April 14, at the Buckhead Theatre, to raise money and awareness for the Eating Disorder Information Network.
In addition to keeping busy with a variety of Jewish charities, Blum is active in the business community as the chairman of the advisory board of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, a board member of Junior Achievement and an advisory board member of the Emory Center for Ethics.
He stepped out of his comfort zone to support EDIN with dancing partner Natalie Pruitt, who owns Rock Steady School of Ballroom Dance in Sandy Springs.
“My wife decided to take ballroom dancing lessons a couple of years ago and needed a partner,” Blum said. “Somewhat to my surprise, I enjoyed it. It is good exercise, more fun than running.”
The EDIN benefit led him to practice at least once a week, usually at lunchtime. He surpassed his goal of raising $20,000 through donations and sponsorships.
“When they asked me to do it, I thought long and hard and decided, ‘Why not?’ ” Blum said, adding that he nevertheless doesn’t expect to do it again.
“Since I have had some ballroom dancing lessons and have competed with my wife, my anxiety level is much lower than it would have been if I had never done it before,” he said. “For the most part, I’m looking forward to it.”
Asked how he would compare this adventure to practicing law, Blum said: “Every lawyer should do it. Takes discipline, brains, finely tuned analytical skills — just like being a lawyer, but you move more.”
Cha-cha maven Karen Schatten Shmerling will hit the dance floor for the seventh annual Dancing Stars of Atlanta benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association on Saturday night, April 30, at the Cobb Galleria.
She grew up at Atlanta’s Ruth Mitchell Dance Company and graduated as a dance major from Skidmore College. She is a volunteer dance coach and choreographer for the senior dance team for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.
Shmerling performed in New York for several years before returning to Atlanta to teach ballet and jazz, as well as second grade.
She and her professional partner, Jonathan Chen, practice two hours a week.
“My goal is to raise $50,000,” Shmerling said. “When asked to dance for the Alzheimer’s Association, I felt very privileged to say yes as my father-in-law, Dr. Sanford Shmerling, and my uncle, Dr. Perry Gold, both succumbed to Alzheimer’s. I am also dancing in honor of my mother, who has dementia.”
She said that learning to dance in ballroom shoes has been the most difficult part of participating. “Walking in heels is not a problem for me, but doing a very fast cha-cha routine to Pitbull’s ‘Fireball’ is a different story. Yes, I am nervous about performing because who wouldn’t be when all eyes are on you to give a great performance?”