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NMSU DanceSport to host ?Look Who?s Dancing? fundraiser

New Mexico State University?s DanceSport team, a competitive ballroom, Latin and swing dance company, will host its seventh ?Look Who?s Dancing? fundraising competition at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9 at the Pan American Center.

Group shot of ?Look Who?s Dancing? contestants
Eight teams will compete in this year?s ?Look Who?s Dancing? event, with the goal of raising money for the NMSU DanceSport team. (Courtesy photo)

The event pairs together local celebrities with NMSU DanceSport student team members to compete for the first place Mirror Ball Trophy.

?Look Who?s Dancing benefits the NMSU DanceSport program and the NMSU Dance Department,? said Hannah Cole, the NMSU DanceSport Company coach and dance assistant professor. ?We?re an athletic team and as a team, we compete. In order to represent NMSU, we have to raise our own funds. Any time we go to competitions, it costs between $15,000 and $20,000. Our goal is to compete in three competitions this year.?

This is the NMSU DanceSport team?s biggest fundraiser of the year. According to Cole, last year?s competition brought in about $40,000, $25,000 of which directly benefitted the dance company. Money raised helps with travel, costumes and other expenses.

This is Cole?s third year with Look Who?s Dancing and second year as its director. All 18 members of the DanceSport Company participate in the show. Eight members will compete, while the remaining ten will perform. Senior members of the team are partnered with the local celebrities who agree to compete.

The female competitors will perform the Swing, males will perform the tango, and a second dance is chosen by each team. The DanceSport team will also perform two pieces: a swing/Latin medley and a ballroom medley.

?It?s like Dancing with the Stars and a football game rolled into one,? Cole said. ?The idea is to cheer as loud as you can and support your favorite couples. It is live competitive entertainment and no one yet knows how it will turn out.?

This year?s celebrity competitors are Enrique Carrillo, Alexis Duprey, Sandi Metz, Jan Morehead, Toby Rue, Greg Smith, Veronica Test and Phil Villescas. They are each paired up with one of the following DanceSport members: Perla Castillo, Aaron Prescott, Kenneth Holley, Zachary Pohl, Jade Augustain, Morgan Metcalf, Brandon Romero and Ariel Freilich.

?We have a very strong field this year,? Cole said. ?I am really impressed with the quality of performance. It is hard to believe they only started learning less than 12 weeks ago!?

?It?s been a blast,? said Phil Villescas, a disc jockey at Bravo Mic Communications. ?The tango was particularly tough, but I?m really proud of how far we?ve come since the summer. I?m excited for the competition.?

Villescas practices two nights a week for two hours and on the weekends with partner Freilich. The pair began practicing in August.

?My whole life I?ve always wanted to learn to dance,? Villescas said. ?It has been hard work but these kids are fantastic to learn from. I recommend it to everyone.?

Six awards will be presented during Sunday?s show: three Mirror Ball Trophy awards for first, second and third place, the People?s Choice Award, the Super Star Award and the Entertainment Award, selected by last year?s winners. Two local judges and one nationally renowned judge will determine the Mirror Ball award winners.

?Spectators will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite dancers by making a tax-deductible donation to the couple of their choice for the People?s Choice Award,? Cole said.

In addition to local celebrities and DanceSport team members, the event will showcase Ysleta High School?s DanceSport team, Tribal Rhythms from El Paso. The team, consisting of 17 members, will perform a Latin medley before intermission.

?These dancers are the future of our program and we are so excited to have them be a part this year,? Cole said. Fifteen percent of the money raised from this year?s show will go into providing current use scholarships for students. ?It may not be a lot, but it?s a start,? Cole said.

This year?s event will be hosted by 101 Gold ?Your Morning Show? hosts Mike McKay and KC Counts. Tickets pre-sold by celebrities and members of the NMSU dance program cost $5 for kids 12 and under, $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults. Tickets purchased at the Pan Am Ticket Office cost $6 for kids 12 and under, $12 for students and seniors and $20 for adults. VIP tickets cost an additional $25 and assure preferred Pan Am seating and entrance into the after party, taking place at the Azul Ultra-Lounge at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces. The after party will include a red-carpet experience, drinks, hors d?oeuvres, music and mingling with the celebrities and dancers.

?This show just keeps getting better, and we really hope the community comes out to see us perform,? Cole said. ?The students on the company are caring, dedicated, and passionate competitors. Both they and the celebrities wok extremely hard to put on this show.?

For more information on the NMSU DanceSport Company?s Look Who?s Dancing fundraiser, visit www.lookwhosdancing.com, call 575-646-4067 or keep up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NMSUDanceSport and www.facebook.com/LookWhosDancing.