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New Durham stars punch their dance cards

FRANK ALDEN and partner Ashley Dowling proudly hold up their trophies, with other performers in background. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
April 13, 2011
NEW DURHAM — There may have been nine teams competing at "Dancing with the New Durham Stars," but one team was a crowd favorite right from the start.

The duo of Frank Alden, representing Sporto's Restaurant, and partner Ashley Dowling took home the crown with a crowd-pleasing performance at the New Durham School on Sunday, April 10.

Support for Alden, who was also celebrating a birthday, could be seen throughout the packed standing-room-only crowd, as people brought homemade signs and loud cheers.

Scores for the competition were tabulated by combining the audience vote with the four judges: Wendy Fenderson, a Governor Wentworth Region School District School Board member, Darrell Misiaszek, owner of the New Durham General Store, Ken Shiels, a resident and former ballroom dancer and Ken Quigley, the director of Emergency Management.

Alden and Dowling started off with a slow dance, but the music stopped and Alden tossed his jacket to the side, revealing his suspenders.

They used comedy in their routine and added kicks and lots of energy. By the end of the routine, many people in the crowd rose to their feet in support of the performance.

The judges gave the team a score of 39 out of a possible 40 points, the highest score of the event. All the judges were amazed with the performance, and Quigley made a prediction.

"This may be a competition, but I think you are here to win it," Quigley said.

Dowling has been dancing for 22 years and was trained at the Dalton Ballet Studio in Dalton, Mass.

Practice made perfect for the team of Alden and Dowling.

"We spent about two to three hours a week for three or four weeks," Dowling said. "It was amazing, and we had so much fun."

Alden was thrilled by the support at the event and gave a lot of credit to Dowling.

"A lot of friends came from Alton and New Durham showed up," Alden said. "It was a ball. She has the patience of Job."

Alden and Dowling may have won the title, but eight other teams competed at the even, which was MCed by Fred Quimby.

Throughout the event, Quimby thanked the New Durham Parks and Recreation for putting on the event, the Alton Dance Academy for providing dance partners and rest of the dancers who made the event a success.

Cathy Allyn, representing the New Durham Public Library, and her partner David Durham kicked off the event with a thrilling and entertaining performance. The team received a score of 35 from the judges and received great feedback.

"I had a real hard time telling who was the professional," Quigley said.

Eric Giles, representing the New Durham Fire Department, and Kelsey Hannafin performed a short routine and received a score of 29 from the judges.

Kristyn Bernier, representing the New Durham Recreation Department, and partner George Geer energized the crowd with a beautiful performance. They received a score of 38 from the judges and glowing remarks.

"I am ready to go out and dance after watching you two," Shields said.

Jeffrey Kratovil, a member of the New Durham Board of Selectmen, and partner Eric Smith, danced to the James Bond theme and received a 34 from the judges.

Town Administrator Alison Rendinaro, representing the New Durham Town Hall, and partner Bob Yergeau used a mix of different music and some aerial maneuvers to receive a 38 from the judges.

Fenderson felt they connected with the crowd, while Shields loved the smiles on their faces throughout the entire performance.

Martin "Moe" Orlowitz, representing Kingswood High School, and partner Caty Jansury performed a high-energy routine and got the crowd pumped up. The crowd seemed disappointed when the judges revealed the score of 33.

Cindy Hess, a counselor representing the New Durham School, and partner John Ling had great rhythm on the floor while dancing to "Dog Days are Over" by Florence and the Machine. There were some technical difficulties and the duo danced without music for a while, which prompted a large cheer from the crowd. The judges rewarded the duo with a score of 36.

Police Chief Shawn Bernier and partner Rebecca Meyer received support from the crowd in laughter and cheering. Bernier showed he could be light on his feet.

The judges awarded Bernier and Meyer a score of 38. Fenderson said the police chief came out a little nervous.

"You are light on your feet," Fenderson said. "John Belushi comes to mind."

At the end of event while the audience scores were being tabulated, Emma Gelinas gave a vocal performance that was wildly entertaining. She sang Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" and performed a beautiful rendition of "Imagine" by John Lennon.

When all was said and done, "New Durham Dancing with the Stars," was an extremely entertaining event that brought the community together.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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