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Meet the Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars

Meet the Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars

Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars is Sunday, May 6, at 7 p.m. in the New Auditorium at Cherry Hill High School West.

Drew Molotsky is returning as director for the fifth year, along with assistant director Sandi Makofsky.

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Greg Gagliardi, teacher and Eastside adviser at East, is returning as emcee.

Tickets are $25; $15 for students and senior citizens, and are available online at www.cherryhilleducationfoundation.com or in the student activities offices at East and West.

Supporters cast their votes for their favorite dancing couples through donations made online or at the night of the event. Each dollar donated counts as one vote. The dancing couple that garners the most votes wins.

Support your favorite dancers by voting online now at www.cherryhilleducationfoundation.com.

Students from The Eastside, the student newspaper at Cherry Hill East, interviewed some of the contestants. And here are their stories:

Francis Mazeika and Debbie Rider

Danielle Fox (’13)/ Eastside Entertainment Editor

Concerning Cherry Hill’s forthcoming competition, Dancing With the Cherry Hill Stars, professional Debbie Rider summed up a star’s necessity — “you have to put yourself out there, your movements have to be bigger” — just in time for Francis Mazeika to joke, “I’m halfway there.”

At 6’4, Mazeika is one star who has no problem standing out in a crowd. Unlike Rider, who has been dancing for about 40 years, Mazeika, a practicing IT professional, decided to dabble in the art of dance on a whim.

But Rider attests, “I got the big guy that probably no one’s expecting can dance, but can.”

It is clear through the pair’s enlightening combination of back and forth appraisals and goofs that they can be expected to take their infectious personalities onto the dance floor for an unforgettable performance.

“We have 100 years between us,” said 48-year-old Rider, proudly.

Humored, but just as impressed, 52-year-old Mazeika added, “I didn’t know I had it in me. My one flaw was that I never danced before…except for that one time in the shower.”

With rock and roll as this year’s theme, Rider and Mazeika look forward to reliving rock’s grand influence on their generation. Rider promised, “I’m going to wear my heart on my sleeve.”

Audiences should look forward to the big performance, not only in regards to the entertaining site of a 6’4 man aptly in costume, but also in regards to the contagious joy and comics the two bring to any atmosphere.

Jaquelene Silver and Don Ernenwein

Juliet Brooks (’13)/ Eastside News/Features Editor

Jaquelene Silver and Don Ernenwein disprove the theory that Republicans and Democrats cannot get along. Sort of.

The “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” duo like to wear political party shirts to their practices, but aside from the jokes about the fact that Silver is a Democratic Cherry Hill councilwoman and Ernenwein a Republican, the pair get along perfectly.

Silver is in her first term as Cherry Hill councilwoman and Ernenwein just wrapped up a career of 25 years of show business. Now that he’s finished “Young Frankenstein” on the road, Ernenwein is living in Voorhees with his wife and daughter.

Ernenwein said, “After being on the road for nine months, I didn’t want to be away from them anymore.”

Ernewein’s wife, Sarah Ernenwein, is a Cherry Hill East alum. She choreographed the pair’s dance, and, in fact, got the dancers together. Sarah takes classes at Artists in Motion, and when Silver called to see if Artists in Motion had any available male dancers, Sarah offered up her husband.

Ernenwein is at home on the stage, but Silver has never danced competitively before. Although Silver used to have stage fright, she said, “I’m much more adult now, and I’m in local politics.”

Eleanor Togneri and Jeffry Kirschen

Juliet Brooks (’13)/ Eastside News/Features Editor

Love overcomes all obstacles, and prior dance experience is no exception. Eleanor Togneri — businesswoman and owner of a local limousine company — and her beau of one and a half years, Jeffry Kirschen, are another “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” couple, but they are not like the others. Although most couples consist of one “star” and one professional dancer, neither Kirschen nor Togneri have ever danced before.

Togneri said, “[Eleanor Stofman] said if there was someone [I] wanted to dance with it was fine.”

Stofman is president of the Cherry Hill Education Foundation and coordinator of the event.

The couple have Stofman’s blessing, but they have been practicing since January to make sure that they can get the dance.

Kirschen has been on stage for 36 years as a French horn in the Philadelphia Orchestra, but he said he has never danced before. Togneri said that she was very surprised when Kirschen asked to be her dance partner. Kirschen said that they had talked about taking dance classes, and the couple decided that this was the perfect opportunity to learn — although Togneri joked that she hadn’t been sure what she was signing up for.

Togneri said that she was originally worried about learning the dance in time, but their choreographer, Mrs. Sandi Makofsky, has been working with them since the beginning to make sure the couple has the dance video-perfect.

Togneri said, “The whole thing has been so pleasant and easy. It’s all very light and there is no pressure.”

The couple has already bought 22 tickets for the event so that their families will not have to overcome any obstacles in order to attend “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” on May 6.

Kimberly and Steve Redfearn

Gilana Levavi (’14)/ Eastside Editorial Assistant

Kimberly and Steve Redfearn, a husband-and-wife pair, both teach at Cherry Hill schools. Kimberly Redfearn teaches first and second grade at Russell Knight, while Steve Redfearn teaches health and physical education at Kingston and Cooper, and previously taught fifth grade at Kilmer.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids,” said Steve Redfearn.

Kimberley Redfearn has directly benefitted from the Cherry Hill Education Foundation, receiving a technology grant for her classroom.

The Redfearns are well known for organizing Volley for Support, in which teams of teachers from each Cherry Hill school compete in a volleyball tournament to raise money for a charitable cause. Last year, they raised money for Build Jake’s Place, to build a “boundless” — handicap-accessible — playground at Challenge Grove Park. The eighth annual Volley for Support is scheduled for May 4 at Cherry Hill East, and the funds will go to support Build Jakes’s place again, as they build a Miracle Field — a sports field made of a wheel-chair-safe material — at Challenge Grove.

Because Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars is typically held the same weekend as Volley for Support, the Redfearns have not attended it in the past. They said they joked about participating, but did not seriously consider it until Eleanor Stofman, president of the Cherry Hill Education Foundation, approached them.

They are planning to dance to music from Footloose. Alan Saperstein, a professional dancer, has been choreographing the dance for them.

Though Steve Redfearn has minimal dancing experience, Kimberley Redfearn danced growing up, and also worked as a dancer at Disney World before she began teaching.

“It [combined] my two favorite things,” said Kimberley Redfearn, referring to dancing and Disney, of her experience.

The Redfearns are excited to participate in Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars, and are enjoying the practice process.

Jenny Ryan and Joe DeMarco

Gilana Levavi (’14)/ Eastside Editorial Assistant

What do a dance instructor and newspaper publisher have in common? Though Joe DeMarco and Jenny Ryan had not met prior to their first rehearsal, they have more in common than it may seem. Both own local businesses.

DeMarco teaches at his own dance studio, DeMarco Dance Center in Merchantville, which offers a variety of classes, including ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and modern, for both children and adults. He has been dancing since he was three years old. His mother, from whom he purchased his studio, was his first teacher.

DeMarco heard about Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars through one of his adult students, and said that he grabbed the chance to do a live performance since he spends most of his time teaching and choreographing. He said that many of his dance students and many of his friends’ children attend Cherry Hill schools, making the cause particularly relevant to him.

Ryan publishes SNJ Business People, a monthly print newspaper and weekly-updated website covering businesses in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties, which she founded in 2007.

Ryan said she wanted to participate because she wanted to support the Cherry Hill Education Foundation, especially its president, Eleanor Stofman, whose passion for the CHEF she admires.

Though she said learning to dance is challenging, Ryan said DeMarco is a great teacher, and that she enjoys having him as a new friend.

“I thought it would be really hard — more hard than fun — but it’s more fun than anything,” said Ryan.

Through soliciting sponsors, Ryan has already raised more than $5,000 for the Cherry Hill Education Foundation.

Both Ryan and DeMarco are enjoying the process of creating and practicing the dance, and are excited for the event.

As DeMarco said, “There’s gonna be a lot of energy in that room.”

George Jester, Natalie Jester, Claudia Fulginiti and Annabelle Fulginiti

Juliet Brooks (’13)/ Eastside News/Features Editor

Family comes first, as George and Natalie Jester know. The Jester-Fulginiti “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” team includes George Jester and his daughter, seventh grader Natalie, as well as Natalie’s two cousins, Claudia and Annabelle Fulginiti, who go to Trinity Preschool and Woodcrest Elementary, respectively. Mrs. Margie Major, owner of Happy Feet Dance Studios, is choreographing this team’s dance. Natalie Jester has been dancing at Happy Feet since it opened in 2005, and both of her younger cousins attend the dance school as well.

Natalie Jester said, “I like to perform and it’s fun to be with my family.”

According to the Jesters, Major came up with the concept behind their dance, and pulled Natalie aside to enlist the Jester and Fulginiti families’ help in making her vision a reality.

George Jester said, “It’s a fabulous concept. The whole family teared up.”

Major first asked the group in December, and they have been practicing since January. Although George has not had any prior dance experience, he said, “I thought it was a good opportunity to dance with [Natalie].”

The Jesters are excited to raise money for teacher grants and to dance as a family.

Debra Noll and Alan Saperstein

By Sherin Nassar (’13)/ Eastside Humor Editor

To the Cherry Hill Education Foundation, Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars is an event that brings out all of the community to lavish in a night of fun and dancing to financially benefit the Cherry Hill Public Schools. But to Debra Noll, a contestant, the show means the chance to try her hand at something she has always wanted to pursue: dancing.

Noll, member of the Glassboro Board of Directors for Robin’s Nest and member of the Cherry Hill Democrats Committee, grew up in Canada with a large family that loved to dance passionately, but she was never given the opportunity to take dance classes or be a part of dance performances.

“I’ve never had the chance to take [dance] lessons, so this gave me the chance to take lessons and I’m planning on taking dance classes after [this performance],” Noll said.

However, with her partner Alan Saperstein, a professional dance instructor for 18 years, one may argue that dance lessons will not be necessary after their performance. Saperstein has taught dance at various establishments within South Jersey and Pennsylvania, such as the Stardust Ballroom in Bellmawr, NJ, and Dances by Dina in West Philadelphia. With his credentials to back him, Saperstein was unafraid to not only tackle his own choreography for his partner and himself for the night, but also choreograph a dance for another team.

“It is totally worth it to do this and it’s a lot of fun and I would do it again next year. I’m on board [to do this show] as long as my kids are in the school system and I can physically move,” Saperstein said.

Overall, Noll and Saperstein are eager for the weekend of May 6 to show off their dancing feet to the audience and are thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with each other.

“We are having a good time together and enjoying each other’s company,” Noll said.

Susan Nicolazzo and Billy Hart

By Sherin Nassar (’13)/ Eastside Humor Editor

When one imagines a Cherry Hill star, he or she does not usually imagine a math teacher. However, when this math teacher grew up in the heart of Cherry Hill dancing at the local Jazz Unlimited since the young age of six, went to the very high school where she currently teaches math, Cherry Hill East, and lives with her family in Cherry Hill, one may find this math teacher, Mrs. Susan Nicolazzo, as a more than fitting addition to the “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” cast.

Finding a place within the “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” cast simply by visiting the local Pizza Fresca for a bite to eat with her daughters, Nicolazzo was paired with Billy Hart, a practicing actor in theatre who has been cast in performances such as Cats: The Musical.

“It’s good working with him. He’s very theatrical and drama driven. He’s young and full of energy, but very compatible with me. We dance really well together and have gotten so much done,” said Nicolazzo.

Though even with a plethora of professional dancers that are sure to surround her at the show and even being partners with one, Nicolazzo is not intimidated to dance once again in front of the Cherry Hill community.

“I do not go to dance classes, but it’s a comfort zone for me and I’m [excited] to be on stage to show the fun of this art and how it can make you smile,” Nicolazzo said.

But, more than anything else, both partners are excited to represent Cherry Hill in a performance that is not only sure to wow the crowd, but also be one worth remembering for a very long time.

“I’m so psyched to be doing it, to represent East and to be able to say that a prominent teacher who is popular with the students can do theatre with a choreographer. As a teacher, Cherry Hill resident, I am proud to have the opportunity to be a part of the production and looking forward to what that weekend brings to us,” Nicolazzo said.

Be sure to look for Nicolazzo and Hart as they dance their way into the crowd’s hearts on May 6.

Chi Ewusi and Christopher Pawling

Danielle Fox (’13)/ Eastside Entertainment Editor

Unlike the typical “pro” and “star” pairing who most often competes at the Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars event, competitive ballroom dance partners Chi Ewusi and Christopher Pawling offer some diversity to this year’s show.

“We try to really encapsulate the music in our dancing instead of just learning a routine or steps. There is a personal level to [this sport],” said Pawling, a graduate of Cherry Hill West.

Pawling and Ewusi met at George Washington University, where they first joined hands as partners. Dancing and competing together for close to two years, the pair has formed a close bond amidst the competition scene.

“I think as a dance couple a lot of our focus is on the emotion of our dancing,” Ewusi said.

While other couples’ primary focus is Cherry Hill’s forthcoming competition, this pair has to balance their competitive dance schedule along with the community’s acclaimed show.

Ewusi said, “We practice about five to ten hours a week. We’re competitive dancers, so we compete at least twice a month.”

But as competitive dancers, Ewusi and Pawling not only thrive off the competitive thrill of dance, but also retain an appreciation for its metaphysical element.

“Especially with ballroom dancing, there are a lot of figures that everybody recognizes. It’s been around for hundreds of years. In that sense the technicality of it doesn’t change. But the cool thing is it’s always evolving because people find different ways to interpret the music,” said Ewusi.

The couple promises to bring traditional ballroom to the stage to underscore their aesthetic; but, there will be a twist, of course.


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