A Decade of Dancing: 10 Years of Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars — Part Two

In the second part of this three part special feature, discover how Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars has evolved over the years.

Cherry Hill Education Foundation third vice president Jon Cohen dances with his partner, Sarah DuVall-Pearson in the 2016 Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars.

While Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars’ popularity has remained high since its 2008 debut, there have been a few changes over the years. One of the first changes made was the addition of Greg Gagliardi, teacher at Cherry Hill East, as the show’s emcee in 2009.

Gagliardi had been a dancer in the 2008 show. When he heard the show was looking for a new emcee for 2009, he volunteered his services.

“I’ve done a lot of stuff on stage for various school events and I’ve done a lot of stand-up comedy,” he said.

“When I mentioned I would be willing to emcee, (Stofman) gave me a shot,” Gagliardi added. “She didn’t know how I would be.”

Since his emcee debut, Gagliardi has been a hit with audiences, adding comedy bits and color between the dances.

“What really ties the show together isn’t just to have one dance act after another,” Gagliardi said. “It’s to hear more from the people. The show has been the best when the people in the show joke back with me or the judges interact with the show.”

Gagliardi has gotten rave reviews as an emcee from many who work on the show.

“The way he’s able to address the audience and keep everyone interested makes me smile,” Meloche said.

“He has been the best person to work with,” Stofman said. “He has grown into it. He’s such a good sport.”

For the show’s third year in 2010, Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars was transformed into Cherry Hill’s Got Talent, where community members could showcase their best talents on stage. While Molotsky felt the show came together well, many people missed the dancing aspect. Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars returned in 2011 and has remained since.

Cherry Hill Township Council President Dave Fleisher dances with his partner, Jodi Raditz, at the 2011 Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars.

Another change made early on was the introduction of themes. Molotsky said he and Stofman decided to go this route to breathe some fresh air into the show and make it more cohesive.

“The themes were something we introduced later in the process,” Molotsky said. “That was something I asked Eleanor to consider because it would give us an overall approach we could do for the show every year. It became more cohesive and more interesting to the audience because the numbers all tied together.”

The themes over the years have varied, with rock and roll, the 1960s, Broadway and country western all appearing as themes.

Everyone has a different favorite theme from the past years. The 2015 country western theme was a favorite of Stofman’s.

“It turned out to be absolutely fabulous,” she said. “The music that was selected turned out great.”

That show also triggers what many people say is the most memorable moment in the show’s first nine years. At the start of the 2015 show, Gagliardi was asked to ride a horse across the stage, something he was a little apprehensive about.

Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars emcee Greg Gagliardi rode a horse onto the stage in the 2015 show.

“To be on the horse is unusual for me,” he said. “But to ride a horse on stage, I was afraid the horse was going to run right off the stage.”

Fortunately for Gagliardi, the ride went smoothly and the show went on without a hitch.

The show’s 2014 Broadway was also a popular theme for some. Molotsky felt the music really made the 2014 show a hit with audiences. Tim Keleher, music director for the show, agreed, saying the Broadway music allowed the high school students to perform different types of songs.

“It’s always a challenge for the students because this is slightly outside the normal high school music curriculum,” Keleher said. “They get to play things they wouldn’t normally have.”