Tara's Take: Critter Ball Complete!

By: Tara Wheeler
By: Tara Wheeler

The Critter Ball was SO much fun! For those of you wondering how it went, the pics and videos are in... enjoy!

Here's video of my roomie and emcee Jessica Jaglois introduction of my dance plus the fun video our Dan Schutte made of our practice!

Check out the video of my Rumba with Gary!

Corbin Snow's winning routine!

The big announcement and Corbin's fabulous and humble acceptance speech! Over $100k raised for the critters!

More clips of other routines!

As you can probably tell from the videos above, the Critter Ball was SO much fun! Everyone was dressed to the nines in 1950's garb. My roomate and the event's emcee, Jessica Jaglois, even borrowed her mom's poodle skirt! I was happy to have a place to wear my vintage-looking dress from H&M



My partner Gary Chovan and I along with his wife, Donna, and another friend and ballroom pro Lee Santos, had been working hard with me for months to prepare our Rumba. The dance was looking good and my friend, Jasmine Alexis (Miss District of Columbia's Outstanding Teen 2008 and also an amazing Latin ballroom dancer) had let me borrow one of her fabulous costumes so I looked the part!

When it was finally time to dance, I was beyond excited and clap-happy but still nervous. We'd been training since the summer and had just this one shot to do it right!


I was pleased with Gary and I's performance and it was time to face the judges. We received mostly good remarks, but I have to be honest, I was a little sad to get a somewhat negative comment from a judge who said he "expected more" from my partner and I since it was "obvious" I "had dance training". First, because I had never danced before... and second, because we didn't have another chance to work harder and try again...

But I was only bummed for a few seconds because I realized that it said something amazing about my partner that he had gotten me to the point where someone would even think that I was a trained dancer! I'm a hockey player and former gymnast so I've got flexible legs for high kicks, but other than that, I've got ZERO dance background. Gary and I fooled 'em all! :)

It also said something amazing about Gary. He sometimes has trouble with his balance and, on bad days, can't stand on one foot well... so lifts are out of the question. But without all the lifts that other dancers had, I think our routine was still a show-stopper. I couldn't have asked for a better partner and I'm so glad to call Gary and his beautiful wife Donna my friends!

Donna and Lee dancing!

All of the dancers did INCREDIBLE !!! It was wonderful to see everyone's routines and costumes and I was so proud of my fellow contestants. Not only did we put on a great dancing show, even more exciting; together we raised over $100,000 for the Charlottesville SPCA. The event all-together raised more than double that! If our rhinestones and twirls helped open wallets for the cute critters, then we did our job!

 I'm so grateful to Gary, Donna, Lee, everyone who donated and organized the event, my friends at Smoothie King for their donations, the folks over at Hit Kicker 99.7 and 101.9 for plugging my efforts every time they could! You all are awesome!


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