Dancing with the Sinai Stars will reprise its version of the television sensation at Temple Sinai, after being postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It promises to be a fun evening of performing, food and drinks. This particular fundraiser was done four years in a row, starting in 2010, but took a break for the last six years. The upcoming show to be rescheduled is the 10th anniversary of the original production.
The TV show “Dancing with the Stars” has been a popular phenomenon spanning all ages of contestants and viewers for 28 seasons over 15 years. There’s something relatable, given the opportunity and right circumstances, that makes one imagine dancing the cha-cha in sequined fringe or paso doble in a matador outfit.
“The crowd will be entertained by eight dancing pairs who will wow the audience,” said Shelly Dresdner, Sinai’s associate executive director. “Each dancer from our congregation has been paired with a professional dancer from Daza Dance studio and has been perfecting “moves” for months. They are excited to dance in the friendly competition for a good cause.”
Votes will be for sale for any particular dancer for $10 each. Awards will be given for judges’ choice (based on talent at the event) and voters’ choice (based on individual votes). One dancing couple wins for each of the categories.
Judges are scheduled to be Bunzl Family Cantorial Chair Beth Schafer; Debbie Kuniansky, one of the original event chairs; and comedian Todd Parker. Mindi Sard and Debbie Pinsky are event co-chairs.
The participants are all members of Temple Sinai, four men and four women. All the women will be dancing with the same male instructor, and all of the men will be dancing with the same female instructor.
Dancer Gail Cohn said, “I am the oldest female at 77, by far. One of my rabbis, Brad Levenberg, asked me to participate and I seldom-to-never tell him ‘no.’ Also, after the loss of one of my sons, David, two years ago, I was looking for an outlet to produce those positive endorphins. Growing up, I loved to tap dance, and it made me happy. So I thought going back to a form of dance was a great idea. Going to Daza Dance is fun and lifts my spirits.”
Cohn has been practicing twice a week. She will perform swing, though she had originally considered the waltz. Family members thought she still had the energy to do something faster, so she took their suggestions. She picked the song “Hey Baby” because it was popular when she was in college and is still played by the University of Georgia marching band at football games. “It has a longstanding nostalgia for me.”
Her custom-made dress will be selected with guidance from her instructor Maxi.
When asked about her level of competitiveness compared to the other contestants, Cohn said, “My goal is to compete against myself by doing the best choreography for my dance.
“Ultimately I realize that my body isn’t as young as it used to be and I feel a tad nervous about dancing for an audience.”
The oldest dancing contestant, charismatic Milton Crane, 89, defies all senior age logic. To up the pace, he will perform a rumba-like wave number with professional Valentina from Chile.
Crane said, “Valentina is very talented. We have completed about nine lessons with six more to go. My motivation was, ‘If not now, when? The rabbis did it, why can’t I?’
“It’s great exercise and inspires posture awareness. Now I have to buy my dancing shoes and email my friends to buy tickets to vote!”
Other contestants are: Jamah Maman, Julie Perez, Erica Aronin, Matt Bernes, Keith Greenwald, and David Kusiel. Bernes, at 32, is the youngest.
The event will be open to all at a later date. Included in the ticket price will be an open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Sponsorships are available with perks such as reserved seating, parking passes and votes.
Dresdner said, “Temple Sinai is dedicated to providing the best in Jewish programming, education and outreach. As an essential component of this year’s operating budget, Dancing with the Sinai Stars offsets these efforts. We have a very optimistic goal and feel confident that we will achieve it!” ⎧