An Oak Lawn Community High School senior can add one more extracurricular activity to her college applications: dancing queen.
Olivia Fuarez beat six teachers and a fellow student to take home the mirror ball trophy at the school’s “Dancing with the Spartans” competition.
“I really liked dancing, so I signed up,” Fuarez said. “When it was my turn to perform, I was really nervous, because I knew I was going to have to perform in front of the whole school, and I didn’t think I would be good enough.”
The competition paid homage to OLCHS media specialist and competition organizer Eileen Jones’ love of the television show “Dancing with the Stars.”
“Selfishly, I wanted to be on “Dancing with the Stars,” and I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so I thought of a way to bring it to me,” Jones said.
Everything from the mirror ball trophy to the Jumbotron screen in the gym to interviews with the dancers and the “green room” where contestants wait for their chance to perform is as close to the show as possible, Jones said.
“It’s amazing to see what was in my head played out,” Jones said. “They have such strong energy.”
More than just fun, the contest also raised money for The Parent Project, an organization that raises money for children with muscular dystrophy. This year, the school raised $16,300; and they’ve raised a total of $65,000 over the four years the competition has been held, Jones said.
“A math teacher has a son with muscular dystrophy, so we decided to do it for that cause,” Jones said.
“It just grew and grew, and became a bigger event because we were doing it for something else.”
“The winners are decided 60 percent by judge votes and 40 percent by audience votes, and the audience votes with money,” Jones said. “One dollar equals one vote. Danvers can gather votes ahead of time form their family and friends, and through The Parent Project website, they can campaign for themselves and raise money. Some dancers have $600 or $700 before the show even starts. At the show, we have voting boxes, where people can vote with money, checks, or credit card slips.”
Fuarez raised $1,600 during the competition.
Dancers were paired with instructors from Burr Ridge’s Fred Astaire Dance, and each performed in a group routine and a routine with their dance partner. Fuarez said she and her partner, dance instructor Caleb Aleman, only had eight lessons to prepare. They performed the samba, a Brazilian dance.
Her dancing impressed the dancers at Fred Astaire, and they’ve asked her to dance in a competition as a Fred Astaire dancer, Fuarez said.
“I’d like to do the samba again, but it would also be nice to learn something more complicated,” Fuarez said.
Next year will be the final year of the OLCHS competition.
“It will have an all-star theme, and we want to go out with a bang,” Jones said. “There is only so much of the male staff that will dance in front of the entire school, and there are a lot of fundraisers at school, so people might have fundraiser fatigue. We will be inviting past dancers back and highlighting past winners.”
Jones hopes school Principal Joseph McCurdy will once again take to the dance floor.
“He did a dance last year that everyone loves, so hopefully, he will reprise that,” Jones said.