When Student Assembly President Valerie Hopkins took the stage in her crimson dress and heels, the lights were focused solely on her and her partner. Hopkins has survived meetings with the SA Senate and officials of both the state and the city of Williamsburg, but she said the nerves that accompanied her to those meetings were nothing compared to ones she felt when the music began and she started dancing the rumba with her partner.
Hopkins was one of seven contestants competing in the first "Dancing with the Stars of William and Mary" charity fundraiser on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The event, organized by the Ballroom Dancing Club, offered the grand prize winner a portion of the money raised through ticket sales to donate to the charity of their choice. The competition came just two weeks before the finale of its namesake, the ABC show "Dancing with the Stars," which pairs celebrities with professional dancers.
"They asked us to do this over the summer and we started coming to lessons in September. The training got more intense as time went on," said Hopkins. "I really just wanted to do a nice, simple thing like swing dancing - and then they made me do the rumba!"
Other participants included English Professor Colleen Kennedy who danced the mambo, senior class president Kevin Dua who performed the Cha-cha, senior Walter McClean ('09) who danced the Foxtrot with both a sword and his partner, and Law Professor Laura Heymann, who gave a lively performance of swing. David Ware ('73) and Katie Watson ('07) also performed. Government professor Clay Clemens was master of ceremonies for the event.
Following each performance, the judges - President Taylor Reveley, professional dance instructor Diane O'Neal and Professor Mariann Jelink -gave their critiques and scores. Reveley, who handed out scores such as 8.75 and 9.25, drew the most laughter with his responses.
"I'm impressed," he said of Hopkins' performance. "The president of the Student Assembly is a woman of many talents, and has a partner equal to the task."
Senior Julie Horsting joined the Ballroom Dancing Club the first week of her freshman year and currently serves as its president. Her hope is that "Dancing with the Stars of William and Mary," will become an annual event and even more professors, students and administrators will be willing to participate.
"I'm excited about the fact that we've really gotten the community to come out. We have professors, members of the Student Assembly and students performing," Horsting said. "I think it's a really good mix and I hope it's going to show the audience that you can dance no matter how little experience you have, no matter what age you are, you can dance - and you should go out and try it!"
The night's winner was decided both by their scores and the votes cast by the audience members. When the ballots were counted, Heymann, the only contestant to earn a perfect 10 score, emerged as the triumphant winner. Heymann, who recently won the College's annual Raft Debate as the Devil's Advocate, chose the Law School's Public Service Fund as her charity. The Public Service Fund provides stipends to law students working in public service each summer.
"And who says lawyers can't dance?" Reveley announced in delight. "Great moves, great facial expressions - a really great ending to this evening!"