Palmyra couple wins CHS Dancing with the Stars competition

Palmyra couple wins CHS Dancing with the Stars

CARLINVILLE (Feb. 8, 2018) – Despite having no direct familial ties to the Carlinville school district, a Palmyra couple was one of eight teams that took to the gym floor Saturday night during a local version of Dancing with the Stars — and emerged victorious, being named Grand Champions by the judges.

Priscilla Matli and her husband Steve participated on behalf of Carlinville Area Hospital, where she works as a nurse. “The hospital was asked to supply a team for the fundraiser, and we were asked,” said Matli. “Because we have been on Northwestern post prom committee for many years, we knew how hard it can be to get volunteers.”

Matli said she and her husband love to dance, but this was the first competition they had entered. “We are on the dance floor at weddings for almost every song,” she said, adding that they took a five-week ballroom dance class to learn basic steps. As for their win, she said, “We were stunned and very excited! Everyone had cute routines and special features in all of their dances — so entertaining to watch. It was a very good fundraiser for the kids, which is what this is all about: giving them a great time and safe after-prom!”

Paula Campbell, one of the event organizers, said no final calculation has been done on the amount raised overall, but a total of 900 tickets were sold. “The committee was hoping for a large turnout, but you never really know,” said Campbell. “This was new to the community; there were several other events around Carlinville as well Saturday evening. The post prom committee was extremely pleased with the number of people choosing to spend their Saturday night at our event. We are also very pleased with the amount of money raised by this event; it was better than expected, to support our youth in having a safe after-prom.”

The People’s Choice Award — given out based on the highest number of votes (dollars) submitted by audience members for each team — collected just over $3,000. That award went to team Dynamic Juniors, consisting of Cora Gray and Bailey Lippold.

Lippold said both the grand championship and the people’s choice were close, with only a single-digit difference between the teams’ ratings by the judges and only a few dollars separating the teams in the people’s choice competition.

Other participating teams were CPS “Roccs” — Elise Schwartz and Rocco Cania; CMS Dance Crew — Roy Kulenkamp and Hillary Sandbach; Bongo Girls — Shawn Buhl and Ashlee Miller; Uptown Funk — Marsha Crane and Joey Naples; Team SEN18RS — Jordan Chism and Emma Griffith; and Toe Treaders — Kathi Rhodus and Michael Morrison. A ninth team, 4 Left Feet (Lori and Jeff Brown) did not end up competing due to illness.

Each team danced in two rounds: disco and the Charleston. The evening also featured performances by area dance studios, including Mary Ann Harp’s Just to Dance, with performers Maggie DeLong, Clara Gray, Cora Gray, Adelle Hammann, Rylie Hester, Mallory Jenkins, Megan Jenkins and Lily McCurley; Connie Morin’s Fancy Feet, with performers Karly Ambuel, Destiny Burcham, Rebekah Hannah and Lauren Summers; the Cavalettes, with team members Karly Ambuel, Raiven Stieglitz, Ryleigh Gibbel, Sami Park, Cora Gray, Devin Whitworth, Lauren Harris, Alicia Bellm, Allison Rosentreter, Lauryn Pool and Brooke Ruyle; Amanda Graves’ Macoupin Dance Academy, with performers Lillian Costello, Emily Hammann, Allie Jordan, Rachel Koebbe, Hannah Releford and Sheridan Wiseman; and alumni Cavalettes, with performers Lexi Haley, Sydney Schmidt, Darci Bilbruck, Brooke Demuzio, Breann Dowdy, Ainsley Poe, Taylor Little, Madi Rogers and Elisabeth Evans.

The awards were presented by the 2017 Carlinville royalty: Taylor Daugherty, Miss Carlinville; Avery Boatman, Junior Miss Carlinville; and Claire Vinyard, Little Miss Carlinville. BJ Vinyard served as master of ceremonies for the evening, and Tori Hartson sang the national anthem to open the event. Judges were John Comerford, Teresa Gwillim, Lynne Evans and Kitsie Denby.

“I can’t say enough about Saturday night,” said Campbell. “Each and every one of our dance teams, studios, Cavalettes and alumni did a fantastic job! Our MC BJ Vinyard rocked it as well, and our judges provided great commentary. The committee had a vision of how things should play out, and the participants helped make it come true and so much more!”

At the end of the evening, Evans read a tribute honoring Denby for organizing the Cavalettes 36 years ago; Denby was given a standing ovation.

As of right now, the committee plans to make this an annual event. “We have had lots of great feedback and encouragement to do this again,” Campbell said.

Dance teams included, back row, from left, Roy Kulenkamp, Rocco Cania, Joey Naples, Steve Matli, Kathi Rhodus, Michael Morrison, Emma Griffith and Jordan Chispm; middle row, Hillary Sandbach, Elise Schwartz, Marsha Crane, Priscilla Matli, Cora Gray and Bailey Lippold; front row, Shawn Buhl and Ashlee Miller. Photo courtesy of Carrie Harris Photography.