Dancing with the Celebrities

Some of Naperville’s most well known people are stepping out of their comfort zones and on to the dance floor in hopes of winning this year’s mirror ball trophy at the fourth annual Dancing with the Celebrities.

New this year, a performance by a resident who won her spot in an auction. Leila Taheri hopes to perfect her jazz infused two-step, to Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” before the big night.

“It’s really hard,” said Taheri. “It’s tougher than I expected. I mean, I dance. I freestyle dance, but this is totally different.”

Rehearsing with her partner Igor Afoakin at My Dance Hub has shed a new light on the skills the pros perfect their entire lives.

“I have a whole new respect for professional dancers after what I’ve been through,” said Taheri. “They make it seem so easy, but it’s not.”

Also rehearsing at My Dance Hub, Sullivan’s Steakhouse General Manager, Randy DeGuzman, who is feeling confident.

“We are going to bring a show,” said DeGuzman’s partner.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be energetic. And it’s going to be a party,” said DeGuzman.

DeGuzman’s partners Janna Lellemagi already has a mirror ball on her mantle from 2012. So to repeat this year, she’s pushing him to master a quick paced jive routine to a classic song.

“Proud Mary, Tina Turner,” said DeGuzman. “The fastest song possible.”

On the other side of town at Arthur Murray, Cha-Cha is the dance of choice for Deputy City Manager Marcie Schatz.
“I’m an engineer, engineers aren’t known for their strong dance skills,” said Schatz. “But it’s a great charity and I’m happy to be a part of the event.”

There is never a shortage of laughing and smiles during Schatz’s and her partner’s practices and they hope to bring that light hearted energy to the floor.

“No falling, that’s the number one rule,” joked Schatz. “Enjoy it and have a good time.”

Also performing with an Arthur Murray dancer is Ryan Alvarez, a Financial Planner at Naperville Bank and Trust.

His partner, Kelly Lakomy, will be competing against Dutton for the first time as his wife.

“It would be really nice to beat my husband not only for the first time in this event, but also as my husband, so that would be a double win for me,” said Lakomy.

To achieve that, the pair is keeping everything quiet, however they did reveal to me they are doing a hustle.

“[Kelly] came to me and said I want to do something that has never been done before,” said Alvarez. “So to protect that wow factor, we are keeping it a secret.”

While the other couples are perfecting their routines, Navistar’s VP and General Manager of Strategic Initiatives Michele Calbi is getting used to a new partner.

“Unfortunately my first partners got injured,” explained Calbi. “In the mean time Sarge, who I take lesson from was able to move into that slot.”

Because Calbi has been taking lessons for a year and a half, she thought that would help her. It has, but her Cha-Cha to Carlos Santana’s “Smooth” has challenged her.
“When I decided to come on board, I thought I knew quite a bit about dancing,” said Calbi. “Then I learned the opposite, that it’s a lot of work and it takes years.”

These five dancers will also battle District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges, General Manager for BP Kevin Harris, and NCTV17’s Executive Director Liz Spencer for this year’s mirror ball trophy.

You can catch all the dancing right here on NCTV17. We will be broadcasting the competition live at six thirty in the evening on September 12.

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