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Local celebrities to compete in 2011 Look Who's Dancing! Competition

Local celebrities, including New Mexico State University First Gentleman Paul Couture and NMSU Army ROTC Commander Lt. Col. Andrew Taylor, will compete in the 2011 Look Who's Dancing! competition at 7 p.m. April 16 at the Pan American Center.

The third annual competition is presented by the NMSU Dance Program and DanceSport Company. Contestants this year include Couture, Taylor, Mesilla Mayor Nora Barraza, Amanda Cruz of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, The Rocket 99.5's Lynz Green, author Audrey Hartley, Pulse Magazine Editor Lucas Peerman, and Savonne Griffin of FirstLight Federal Credit Union, Big Brothers-Big Sisters and the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce.

NMSU DanceSport students are responsible for choreographing the dances, instructing their celebrity partners and performing with the celebrities during the event. The couples have been practicing for the event since the beginning of February.

"Our students are learning to become teachers and coaches," said Debra Knapp, director of the dance program at NMSU. "The life skills they are learning through participating in this event will be with them forever, and they will enjoy a friendship with their partner for years to come."

Each celebrity and his or her NMSU DanceSport Company partner will perform two dances in the competition. Female celebrities will perform the cha-cha, and male celebrities will perform the east coast swing. Each couple may choose from the rumba, salsa or mambo, nightclub two-step, waltz, foxtrot, American tango, west coast swing or the hustle for their second dance.

Contestants will compete for the first and second place mirror ball trophies and the People's Choice award, for which Look Who's Dancing! audience members will vote.

One of the main goals of the event is to promote social dancing in the community as a healthful and enjoyable activity for all ages and skill levels.

"Over the past several years, our NSMU and Las Cruces communities have embraced dance," Knapp said. "Our audiences are growing, and more people want to take dance classes. Look Who's Dancing! is our way to showcase ballroom and Latin dance, and our local celebrities add the 'spice' to this event."

Look Who's Dancing! attendees will also have the opportunity to sample desserts at the Tango Terrace Sidewalk Café in the Pan American Center. The café will be operated by students in the NMSU School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. A cash bar serving champagne, wine, beer, water and coffee will also be available.

Proceeds from the event will help fund national NMSU DanceSport Company competitions and professional dance certifications for the students.

Tickets cost $16 for reserved seating, $11 general admission and $6 for students with an I.D card. Tickets can be purchased at the Pan American Center Ticket Office, 575-646-1420. General admission tickets also may be purchased from Enchanted Gardens, White's Music Box and Adore Salon & Day Spa.

For more information, contact the NMSU Dance Program at 575-646-2070 or visit http://dance.nmsu.edu/lookwhosdancing.