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Dancing dynamic duos compete for good causes
The 2017 Dancing with the Turlock Stars dynamic duos and their dance professionals pose for a picture during this years event kickoff held at Red Brick Bar & Grill on Thursday. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal


Jenn Earl and John Law

Sue and Ernie Peters

Karina and Guillermo Ramirez

Danielle Darrimon and Dr. Scott Colquhoun

Allyn Medeiros and Mark Serpa

Brooke and John Thompson

Anokeen and Dr. Antoine Varani

Nansi Masihi and Josh Holsapple

Amanda and Mark Alberti

Joanne Digiovanni and Abe Rojas

Amanda Huff and Corey Thibault

Dr. Sunita Saini and Avkash Patel



Dancing with the Turlock Stars is doubling the fun for its fourth annual event this year with local couples taking to the stage in an effort to raise money for worthy causes while competing for one of the coveted trophies.

Twelve “dynamic duos” will be paired with a dance professional to create a routine that will be performed live at the 2017 DWTTS event, scheduled for Sept. 16 at the Assyrian American Civic Club. Couples have two ways of winning a DWTTS trophy — by garnering the most votes (which cost $10 each) or by scoring the highest for their routine by a panel of judges.

The local dance competition, modeled after the television show with a similar name, has grown in popularity over the years.

It started out in 2014 as a fundraiser for the Turlock Salvation Army, raising $34,000 for the nonprofit organization. The following year, the event organizers founded Dancing with the Turlock Stars Inc. and raised $104,000 for both the Salvation Army and Covenant Care Hospice. Last year, DWTTS added Jessica’s House as a third beneficiary and raised $154,000.

“You can see just how generous this community is,” said event organizer Kristin Bettencourt.

In previous years, dance professionals teamed up with a local “star” to perform a routine together. This year, the professionals will have to train not one, but two dancing amateurs.

This will be Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy owner Gabrielle Aguiar-Forrest’s fourth year as a DWTTS professional.

“There’s not many fundraisers around that do for the community what this one does,” said Aguiar-Forrest about why she continues to volunteer her time and talents as a dance pro.

She said DWTTS has also really brought dancing into the local limelight and she’s seen more interest in partner dancing due to the event.

The star couples competing this year come from varied backgrounds and dance experience.

Local dentist Antoine Varani and his wife Anokeen could not remember the last time they were on the dance floor, but they will do their best to wow the judges.

“I think it’s a fun event that raises money for the community; it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Anokeen Varani.

While the Varanis will present their pro a challenge as new dancers, other couples are regulars on the dance floor but new to choreographed routines.

“You can find us downtown most weekends; we start the dance floor,” said Jenn Earl Law, who will be dancing with her husband, John Law. “We love raising money for great causes and to do that and have fun, there’s nothing better.”

Tickets for the 2017 DWTTS event are $75 each, or $1,200 for a table of 12 with reserved seating, and will go on sale Aug. 10 at For information about event sponsorship, email The public can also purchase pink stars (votes) for their favorite couple for $10 each at locations around Turlock over the next three months.