Mukilteo mayor to star in celebrity dance show

Gregerson gets crash course in dancing before taking stage
By Nicholas Johnson | Apr 19, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson Dance instructor Anthony Whipple of the Utah Ballroom Dance Company dips Mayor Jennifer Gregerson as the two rehearse a ballroom dance routine April 17 in the gymnasium at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Jennifer Gregerson hasn’t stepped on stage since participating in candidate debates during her 2013 mayoral bid.

Nevertheless, the first-term mayor of Mukilteo didn’t let that keep her from agreeing to be a celebrity dancer in the Edmonds Center for the Arts’ (ECA) local rendition of the popular television show “Dancing With the Stars.

“I have never danced or had any training, but they’re a great organization and I’m a good sport so I figured it would be a fun opportunity,” Gregerson said.

After taking the ECA up on its invitation some six months ago, Gregerson said she considered getting a head start on dance lessons, but that never happened.

“I don’t sing, I don’t play any instruments, and I’ve never done drama or debate or anything like that,” she said. “The one thing I have to lean on is that I’ve gotten over my nervousness and stage fright.”

Each day this week, Gregerson and four other local stars are working one-on-one with professional dancers from the Utah Ballroom Dance Company to learn ballroom dance routines before performing in the ECA’s 700-seat auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22.

The event, dubbed “Dancing with Our Stars,” is billed as similar to the popular television show. Whichever dancer garners the most audience votes will claim the coveted mirror ball trophy.

“I’m competitive, so I can’t resist wanting to do well at this,” Gregerson said.

She’ll be competing against Arista Wine Cellars co-owner David Arista, ECA Board President Susan Dunn, ECA Founding Executive Director Joe McIalwain, and Snohomish County’s former Economic and Cultural Development Manager Wendy Becker Poischbeg.

“She is a real athlete,” Gregerson said of Poischbeg. “I commented on Facebook that I thought she could win. She doesn’t seem to think she has dancing skills, but I think the crowd will be pretty impressed with her.”

Each dancer will perform with their assigned dance instructor, allowing them to better translate what they learn in rehearsals to the main stage. Each will perform not only for the audience, but also a panel of local judges, including Leanne Shelton, Director of Barclay Shelton Dance Centre in Edmonds, and second-term Mayor of Edmonds Dave Earling.

“Maybe the most difficult part will be speaking with Judge Earling at the end,” Gregerson said. “He has a dry sense of humor and wit, so I think he might be a tough judge.”

Each dancer will be introduced with a short video. Afterward, they’ll discuss their performance with the judges. Then, after an intermission, the professional dancers will take the stage to perform a few of their own pieces.

“I’m glad they’re going after us,” Gregerson said.

After her first day’s lesson with dance instructor Anthony Whipple, Gregerson said she was struggling to master the opening curtsy and wondering how high she’ll be able to raise her leg when dipped back.

“I can’t really raise my leg that high, so I’ll have to figure that out,” she said, adding the much of the rest of her routine should develop fairly easily.

“It’s the first steps, that curtsy, where I’m on my own trying to do it right that’s the most challenging. For the rest of it, really all I’m supposed to do is just take steps forward while my partner is spinning all around and guiding me. It actually isn’t as complicated as it seemed at first.”

Although she gets invited to lots of community events, Gregerson said it’s still a strange to be considered a celebrity.

“I do get invited to a lot of different things,” she said. “I think it’s an important part of the job. It’s not like being a councilmember. People like seeing the mayor out in the community, so I usually try to say yes to invitations like this.”

Tickets prices range from $24 to $49. Youth and student tickets cost $15, and seniors and members of the military get a 10 percent discount. To buy tickets, call 425-275-9595, go online to www.ec4arts.org or visit the ECA Box Office in person at 410 4th Ave. N. in Edmonds.

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