Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars

Judges score the competitor’s performances in Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars last year in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.

Just a week from Saturday, Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars returns for its fifth season.

With the name inspired by the popular television show, “Dancing with the Stars,” WVU puts its own charitable spin on the event. As part of WVUp All Night, and in association with the American Red Cross, Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars is a perfect opportunity for a blood drive. In addition to participants having fun, raising awareness and collecting blood donations are the main reason why this event was created.

“We partnered with the American Red Cross, and we have a blood drive in conjunction with this. We try to get the dancers to get together and get people that can give blood for them,” said senior programming administrator of the Mountainair, Sonja Wilson.

The couples will each perform a themed dance and be graded by a panel of judges who will determine a score. The scoring will be dictated, partly by the creativity and choreography, but mainly by how many individuals the dancers can gather to give blood. So if one dancing couple gets 12 people to donate blood, they receive an additional 12 points to their score.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean the best dancing couple is going to win, because not everything is about winning, it’s about giving back,” Wilson said.

This year, there are 32 total dancers. Each of the 16 dancing couples are made up of WVU “celebrities.” Being part of WVU as a member of staff, faculty or student body is a requirement to be considered a WVU “celebrity.”

One participant is someone who has some type of dance experience and their partner is someone with not so much experience, similar to ABC’s version.

“We’ve got a lot of personality in it, and I’m excited to see the audience’s reactions,” said Ankur Kumar, a sophomore industrial engineering student, who is one of the 32 dancers.

Revealing too much of a couple’s plan would make for a less suspenseful performance. However, Kumar hinted that he and his partner’s dance will include something everyone can appreciate.

“Let’s just say we’ve got Bieber fever,” Kumar said.

The WVU Mountaineer, Michael Garcia, is joining Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars this year. Garcia took over as the Mountaineer in April of 2014. Partnered with Garcia is Kallie Nealis, co-captain of the WVU Dance Team.

Another notable participant is former WVU basketball player, Kevin Noreen. Noreen is now a graduate student studying industrial relations. Paige Klingensmith, a junior strategic communications student and someone who danced in her youth, is partnered with Noreen.

Awards are given out to first, second and third place. Just like ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” WVU’s version hands out the mirror ball trophies. Also, the “People’s Choice Award” will collect votes from the audience via Facebook and an award will be given to the chosen couple.

The blood drive is on Tuesday from 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballroom. Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars will be on March 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballroom and is free of cost.