OUT & ABOUT: Meriden event gives local ‘stars’ a chance to dance for charity

MERIDEN — Returning for a second year, Higher Movement’s “Dancing with our Local Stars” brings a fun-filled competition to the community next week in support of United Way of Meriden and Wallingford. 

Last year’s inaugural competition, inspired by the TV show “Dancing with the Stars” – raised about $2,000 for Seniors Have Dreams Too, said Kirby Shields, owner of Higher Movement.

“Last year went really, really well,” Shields said. “But, we’re hoping for even better this year...”

Dancing with our Local Stars will be held Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. at Il Monticello, 577 S. Broad St.

This year, the event will benefit the United Way and feature the organization’s executive director Maria Campos Harlow. 

Campos Harlow thought some long-ago prior dance experience would make the training and competition easier.

“And then I got this reality check as I’m dancing with (Shields), I’m not a spring chicken anymore,” said Campos Harlow, who is partnered with Shields for a Latin-inspired dance featuring the music of Jennifer Lopez. 

The other “stars” of the night are fourth-grade teacher Orlando Valentin, Cheshire volunteer firefighter Tori Otlowski, and WFSB reporter Carolina Cruz. Each will be partnered with one of three Higher Movement dance instructors – Chloie McMahon, Torey Robinson, and Jazzlyn Torres. 

Valentin is entering his fourth year as a teacher at Casimir Pulaski School. He also coaches a Meriden Raiders football team and is an instructor at Valentin Martial Arts.

“I’m born and raised here in Meriden, my grandparents immigrated here, and this is where all my family is, so anything to give back is good,” Valentin said. 

He and McMahon will be dancing to some 90s throwback and current songs. 

Robinson and Otlowski will be dancing to a mix of contemporary music and hip hop that will feature Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran. 

The audience “should be expecting a story … and a relationship type of interconnection throughout the dance,” Robinson said. 

For WFSB reporter Carolina Cruz, the decision to join the dance competition was an easy one.

“Basically, I just grew up dancing,” Cruz said. “I was born in Columbia so I think that whenever you are of Latin descent it’s just kind of in your nature.”

Her dance with instructor Jazzlyn Torres will feature the song “Senorita” by Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes. 

Twitter: @baileyfaywright


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