James Stowell, president of the Pikes Peak Chapter of USA Dance, never thought the Denver Nuggets could threaten his group's first-ever Dancing with Colorado's Stars event. Sure, Jessica Villa, one of the Nuggets' dancers, was scheduled to compete as a celebrity, and the fundraiser was to be held during the height of the basketball playoffs. But the Nuggets hadn't played in a conference final for 24 years, so it seemed safe to assume that by the end of May, they'd be enjoying their usual early summer break.
Then Denver won its first playoff series. And its second. And sure enough, when the Lakers-Nuggets schedule came out last week, Stowell had to put a call in to Villa — Game 7, in Los Angeles, was scheduled for the night of the dance competition.
Villa, however, had already received permission to stay behind. She and her partner (Toby Munroe, of Denver's DanceTrenz studio) had been practicing for this event since February.
And no wonder: All 13 couples involved realized that they had to take it seriously when competition guidelines came out sans feet-on-the-floor guidelines.
"They're all permitted to do lifts, drops, dips and tricks," Stowell says.
The celebrities — who range from local radio and television personalities to Springs resident and Olympic pentathlete Eli Bremer — have each been paired with a professional ballroom or country western dancer. Stovall says four judges will rate the couples' two-minute performances on "technicality, styling, musicality and entertainment." In other words: How are their frame and footwork? Did the performance flow? Did the routine fit the music? And did the audience like it?
While the judges won't be holding up individual score cards like they do on TV's Dancing with the Stars, they will have five minutes following each performance to offer the dancers feedback.
Hopefully for Villa, it's something like: "She shoots, she scores."