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DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY (video)

By Camille Dody - CDOTY@VICAD.COM
Aug. 30, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Updated Aug. 31, 2012 at 3:31 a.m.


Sherri Kyle and Bruce Ryan first danced together at Gruene Hall. It was 1979. For the past 33 years, they have remained in each other's lives.

Thursday evening they reunited on the floor to do the jitterbug without missing a step, although it took months of practice to get to that point. She's affectionately called "Twinkle Toes;" he is "Soft Soles."

Humor helped get them through the tough times.

"At first I thought I could dance a little, but then I realized I couldn't dance at all," Ryan said.

The close-knit friends competed against four other teams by putting their best foot forward in the "Dancing with the Stars - Victoria Style" competition.

A group of 10 volunteer dancers sacrificed their summers to learn their routines. This year's event brought people back in time to relive their favorite movie moment between dance performances.

Proceeds from the show benefit the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach, an alcohol and chemical dependency center. Participants could win for the most sponsored votes and the best dance.

The disco ball illuminated the auditorium with silver speckles, the stars and music notes on the walls rivaled any Hollywood studio. The crowd cheered, chanted, and rang cow bells to show support.

"This is a first-class event," said Susan Cattan Rybak, the show's producer.

Ryan, 50, said the competition was stiff. "I have to bring my A-game," he said.

Dancer Denise Ellison was up to the challenge to take home the coveted mirror ball trophy with Dr. Yusuke Yahagi.

"I think we'll win because we're the most relaxed," said Ellison, a first-time performer.

Former dance champions Larry Robinson and Linda Seerden had not missed a beat since 2011. They set the dance mood with their winning foxtrot. Robinson said he and his partner wanted to step away from the spotlight to get a glimpse of the show.

"We want to go out and see what the show looks like," said Robinson. Last year, they had to watch back stage.

Judges told jokes while dishing out constructive criticism to the contestants. "How much are you going to pay me," said Mary Sue Koontz Nelson to the first brave couple Marla Hartman and Mike Rivet, who did the argentine tango.

The jitterbug dancing couple wore complementary red and black outfits. Ryan wore a red-and-black buttoned down top. Kyle's red, halter dress lined with black tule was a real show stopper. Her crystal accessories were made for a queen.

"Who else would be able to pull off this headband," she said with a gracious smile.

These friends enjoyed themselves on the dance floor and were confident they pulled off a victory. Before the evening ended, they began making plans for next year.

"We're hoping we can do the same dance again," Kyle said.

"These steps were hard to remember," said her partner.

They didn't win the best dance couple title from the judges, but the crowd loved them, giving them the people's choice title and the mirror ball trophy.

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