Sarah Frasier casually dropped into the splits backstage during a warmup phase for the Saturday finale of “Dancing with the Stars Columbus Style” at The Commons. The former Indiana University cheerleader-turned-first-grade-teacher and her chiropractor husband, Nathan Frasier, showed that winning a near-capacity crowd of 380 people to their camp was hardly a stretch.
The athletic duo won first place by earning the most monetary votes during the 10th annual fundraiser for Children Inc. and Family School Partners. The 10 dancing teams raised a combined total of $67,407 during two evening performances.
“It was a fantastic night,” Nathan Frasier said afterward, gripping the event’s mirrorball trophy at the side of the stage after a routine set to a Latin medley.
Donnie Ritzline and Katrina Ketcham-Hardwick earned the People’s Choice Award for having the most people vote for them.
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For the first time, organizers split the event over Friday and Saturday evenings instead of just one afternoon and evening. Friday’s crowd was a sold-out throng of 400.
“We did really well,” said Arriann Custer, program coordinator for Family School Partners.
So did the 10 couples for the gathering that has become not so much a competition as a grand, flat-out fun way to bust a move for local nonprofits. Proceeds ensure that youngsters get a strong, early start in life.
The crowd got into the high energy from the start, shouting when Dr. Nathan Otte, looking every bit the muscled, CrossFit devotee that he is, performed several professional-style lifts of partner and veteran dancer Martha Parshall Richards.
“Anytime I can make a fool of myself for a good cause, I’m in,” Otte cracked beforehand.
Comedy took centerstage in nearly every routine.
April and Troy Williams did a portion of their dance as Sonny and Cher, with her donning a long wig and him slipping on glasses and a fake mustache to big audience laughter.
Brittany Gray pretended that emcee Keith Maddox lost their music, then handed her phone to Maddox onstage and told him to “just hit shuffle” for a mix that included artists such as Big & Rich and Disturbed.
“If you don’t hear people laugh, then you get a little scared,” Troy Williams said.
Some dancers such as Tim Green, part of last year’s winning duo, pushed through obstacles to keep their footwork going. Green, initially decked in partially undone, single-shoulder overalls for something of a hip-hop, street-smart look, gracefully overcame a slip when his sagging trousers got in the way.
“He’s not going to let a slight wardrobe malfunction trip him up at all,” emcee Maddox said.
But the night was filled with as much of a rhythmic groove as anything, with the crowd often keeping the beat of songs by clapping along. For Diane Clancy and Alejandro Rosales, that meant a Latin rhythm. For Robin Hilber and Devika Pande, it meant an East Indian beat made more colorful by elaborate ethnic costuming.
Later in the evening, while votes were being cast and checks written for the cause, Pande’s Bollywood Unlimited Dance Studio crew offered a dizzying and caffeinated routine to a variety of uptempo Indian pop/dance tunes. The group was so polished and energetic that it earned a standing ovation from many in the audience.
Attendees such as Bryce Wagner, who grew up in Columbus as part of Children Inc.’s afterschool program years ago, seemed to be having as a good of a time as many of the dancers near the end of the night.
“To be able to come out and support an organization that helped get me to where I am in life today — well, I don’t see how you possibly can say no to something like that,” he said.
780: Total attendance for two nights
$67,407: Total amount raised
10: Number of couples who danced
10: Number of years for the event