The Cherry Hill Education Foundation (CHEF) is bringing back the township’s “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” on May 22 in person after a cancellation in 2020 and a virtual show last year. Proceeds will benefit the Cherry Hill Public Schools.
The Hollywood-themed show will feature 12 couples competing for most creative, best technical and best overall dance couple as decided by a panel of five judges, who this year include Mayor Susan Shin Angulo, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche, RJ Portella, Cherry Hill West Principal, Dr. Toni Damon and actor and ballroom dancer Brian Fortuna. The first-place trophy will go to the couple who raises the most money for the show.
“Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” began in 2008 as a way to fundraise for the school district. Eleanor Stofman, the education foundation’s president and a participant in this year’s show, said she was inspired by her love of dancing and the television version of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Themes have included a Disney-inspired “Enchanted,” a Western show featuring a live horse and “We are the World! A Cultural Celebration of Our World and Community.” The 2019 performance involved students and staff from each district school singing and dancing together.
The first year, Stofman paired teachers and students from Cherry Hill East and West to compete, and paired those without experience with professional dancers. This year’s cast continues that tradition with notable pairs that include Stofman and local dance instructor Alan Saperstein; Rosa International Middle School math teacher Jodi Raditz and Blaze Dalio, a chorus and music teacher at West; 11-year old ballroom dancer Tavit Murray from Thomas Paine Elementary and his 12-year old partner, Sloan Avery Salvatore; and 13-year old Kaelan Faria from Rosa Middle School, dancing with his mother, Dr. Mechelle Faria.
“Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” has been the foundation’s most successful fundraiser for 14 years, but this year will be the last show directed by Drew Molotsky and the last organized and produced by Stofman. Both are stepping down from their positions, Molotsky from director and Stofman from president of the foundation.
Stofman will remain on the board as a volunteer and will be succeeded by Jon Cohen, a current vice president of the nonprofit foundation and an active participant in “Dancing with the Cherry Hill Stars” both past and present.
“I think he’ll be a wonderful spark,” Stofman said of Cohen. “He has been a wonderful vice president. … I decided this is really the time to move on for new ideas and different ideas, maybe bring more students involved.”
The show’s future will be up to both the new board president and director.
The foundation has successfully raised more than $1 million in grants and donations for the school district while bringing the community closer together through the show.
“It’s a great show,” said Greg Gagliardi, event MC and a journalism teacher at East. “It really comes together and as much work as it is … I think the community needs something like this because there’s no other event that anybody runs in Cherry Hill that involves so many people.
“It’s really the only show in town in that regard,” he added, “so I hope in some way it continues.”
To see the full cast or to purchase tickets online, visit https://bit.ly/3w4rtqL.