Moab Dancing with the Stars

Ken Ballantyne was a Grand County Council member when he performed a foxtrot with instructor Kathy Hazam in 2016. [Photo courtesy of the Moab Valley Multicultural Center]

You’ll want to see the stars come out on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Grand County High School auditorium at 608 S. 400 East.

Eight pairs of dancers will once again vie for a title in the sixth annual Dancing with the Moab Stars, a fundraising event for the Moab Valley Multicultural Center (MVMC).

The MVMC has also announced that one of their sponsors will be matching all funds raised the night of the show, meaning that financial support the MVMC receives during the Dancing with the Moab Stars event will be doubled.

The MVMC describes itself as “building bridges across language and culture through our programming in Moab, Utah.”

Programs include crisis resource and advocacy; language and life skills support; cultural education and outreach; youth education; and interpretation and translation.

The dance competition is based on the hit TV series “Dancing with the Stars” and partners local “Moab stars” with their own dance instructor. Each duo will perform their choreographed moves for the audience and a panel of judges will use scorecards to rate the performances. At the event’s conclusion, the judges will confer and name winners.

Rhiana Medina, executive director at MVMC, said the show’s contestants can win first, second or third place. There are also awards for best costume, best production, as well as awards that are determined only after the judges have seen all the dances, “like awards for fanciest footwork or best storytelling,” she said.

Medina said that the types of dances that will be performed are being kept intentionally under wraps, but that attendees can “know that there will be a wide variety of dances.”

Dancing pairs of stars and instructors this year are Kyle Dern and Dianne Bates; Christina Sloan and Cadance Ballard; Lianna Etchberger and Alfonso Toral; Rob Magleby and Cheri Major; Dr. Pablo Johnson and Erika Ring; Ruth Lowe and Jenna Whetzel; Jessie Sorenson and M'Kenna Sorenson; and Serah Mead and Didar Charles.

Judges are Brendon Cameron, Regan Ballard and BreAnn Russell.

Moab star Ruth Lowe spoke to the Moab Sun News about being a contestant.

“Sometimes, you have to do something that seriously freaks you out,” she said. “A year ago, after watching the incredible 2018 Dancing with the Moab Stars show, my mother-in-law asked me if I would ever consider being a contestant. I laughed so hard! Then proceeded to tell her there was no way. Fast forward a year and here I am, swallowing my fear and excited to show my kids that we are capable of anything, even if it’s something that’s a little bit scary.”

Lowe also had kind words for her dance partner.

“I am beyond thrilled at this opportunity and could not be more excited to be working with the amazing Jenna Whetzel. Moab is such a magical community and I am honored to be a part of the MVMC’s Dancing with the Moab Stars.” 

The event will open with a flag processional with roughly 24 Moab residents carrying flags from their country of origin, or an ancestor’s country of origin.

Dancing with the Moab Stars began in 2014 and was held at Star Hall. Medina said people were turned away once all of the seats filled, so the event has been held at the Grand County High School Auditorium ever since.

“The idea for the event came about when MVMC was looking to get more new entertainment ideas for its Day of the Dead Festival,” said Medina. “We had no idea it would become a such a successful and enduring stand-alone event that brings 700 people together annually.”

The event is, as in years past, underwritten by Red Cliffs Lodge.

Tickets are available ahead of the performance for $13 at the MVMC (156 N. 100 West), and at Back of Beyond Books (83 N. Main St.). Tickets will $15 at the door.