Cincinnati Arts Association Announces DANCING FOR THE STARS 2019 Winners

CAA_Dancing for the Stars

Halle Quinn and Dance Pro Alyenendrov Tsorokean
Crowned New Dancing for the Stars Champs

Michael Betz honored as Fundraising Champion

CINCINNATI, OH – Halle Quinn (Community Volunteer) and her dance pro Alyenendrov Tsorokean (Phoenix Rising Ballroom) received a perfect score of 40, taking first place at the Cincinnati Arts Association’s thirteenth-annual Dancing for the Stars on Saturday, April 13 at the Music Hall Ballroom. Michael Betz (Senior Brand Manager, Strategic Brand Marketing, Gannett, Cincinnati Enquirer) took home the Fundraising Champion Award, as the celebrity who raised the most money for the event through ticket sales and donations.

Rhonda Whitaker (Vice President, Community Relations, Ohio & Kentucky, Duke Energy) and Josh Tilford (Independent Dance Instructor) took second place, and Jeff Thomas (Owner/President, Jeff Thomas Catering) and Bonita Brockert (Independent Dance Instructor) placed third.

The sold-out event welcomed 600 guests. As CAA’s largest annual fundraiser, it raised more than $105,000 in support of the organization’s acclaimed arts education programs, including the Overture Awards – the nation’s largest locally-run high school arts scholarship competition. 

Dancing for the Stars’ silent auction went online one week prior to the event to allow fans and supporters to participate whether or not they were able to attend the fundraiser. The auction raised more than $20,000.  

The remaining three dance pairs included:

  • Michael Betz (Senior Brand Manager, Strategic Brand Marketing,  Gannett, Cincinnati Enquirer) and Doreen Beatrice (Independent Dance Instructor)
  • Heidi DeJonckheere (Dental  Hygienist, Eastgate Dental Excellence) and Brandon Etheridge (Independent Dance Instructor)
  • Phil Gill (General Sales Manager, Tom Gill Chevrolet) and Desiree Mainous (Arthur Murray Dance Studio – Cincinnati)
  • Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney (President & CEO, Sesh Communications) and Jozsef Parragh (Independent Dance Instructor)

Inspired by the hit ABC-TV show Dancing with the StarsDancing for the Stars 2019 featured seven Cincinnati celebrities paired with some of the area’s finest professional dancers in a competition program, at which the audience vote and judges scores propelled the winners to victory. The competitive dance for the evening was the Cha Cha, and each dance pair had 90 seconds to woo the crowd and the judges.

Event emcees were Chris O’Brien and Janeen Coyle (“Married with Microphones,” 103.5 WGRR-FM). The four competition judges were Douglas Beal (Independent Dance Instructor), Barbara Hauser (2015 Dancing for the Stars Alum; Manager, Ohio Government & Community Relations, Procter & Gamble), Pam Kravetz (2018 Dancing for the Stars Third-Place Winner; Nationally-Recognized Artist, Arts Educator, and Project Manager for ArtWorks), Steve Valerius (2018 Dancing for the Stars Alum; President Individual Division, Ameritas Life Insurance).

Currently in its thirteenth year, Dancing for the Stars has become one of the most-anticipated (and imitated) fundraising events of the season.  Since the event’s debut in 2007, nearly 100 local notables have ‘danced for a cause’. The impressive list of past champions includes:  2007 – Dr. O’dell Owens (former president, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; former Hamilton County coroner); 2008 – Jenell Walton (former WLWT-TV5 reporter; former reporter, The List; former WCPO-TV9 anchor and reporter); 2009 – Phil Schworer (attorney, Frost Brown Todd; former president, Cincinnati Bar Association); 2010 – Donna Speigel (owner, The Snooty Fox); 2011 – Dr. Tracey Skale, M.D. (chief medical officer, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral  Health Services), 2012 –  Regina Russo (former chief of communications, Contemporary Arts Center; former director of marketing and communications, Cincinnati Art Museum; former anchor/reporter, WXIX-TV19), 2013 – Chris Seelbach (Cincinnati City Councilman), 2014 – Neal Schulte (founder & president, Schulte Financial Group, LLC), 2015 – Johnny Chu (owner, KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia restaurant),  2016 – Jay Lame (financial analyst, Lenox Wealth Management), 2017 – Rohan Hemani (Procter & Gamble Fabric Care intrapenuer), and 2018 – Dr. Marcia Bowling (Gynecologic Oncology, The Christ Hospital Network).

In addition, Dancing for the Stars 2019 featured:

  • Dinner-by-the-bite provided by A Catered Affair, Alfio’s buon cibo, CMX CineBistro, Eddie Merlot, First Watch, Garnish Catering, Jeff Thomas Catering, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Oriental Wok, Prime Cincinnati, Skyline Chili, Street City Pub, Vonderhaar’s Catering, Whole Foods Market
  • Popular DJ and 103.5 WGRR personality Rockin’ Ron Schumacher
  • Pre-event wine tasting compliments of Biltmore Estate Winery and meet-and-greet with the stars
  • Open dancing before and after the competition

Event highlights included:

  • Entertaining and amazing exhibition dances by Dancing for the Stars talented pros.
  • An athletic, awe-inspiring cabaret-style dance filled with impressive lifts and spins, performed by champion dance-pro Alyenendrov Tsorokean and his fiancé Maria Wheeler. The exhibition dance received a standing ovation from the cheering crowd.
  • An inspiring video about the Overture Awards featuring interviews with the six student winners of this year’s Overture Awards finals competition.
  • Two big screens that featured live video of the competition and engaging video introductions of the stars and pros (interviews and rehearsal footage) before their dances.
  • Humorous, astute, and supportive comments from the Dancing for the Stars panel of judges.
  • Exceptionally responsive, raucous, and energetic audience reactions, which included large cheering sections holding signs with various messages in support of their favorite Stars.
  • The evening’s champs – former figure skater Halle Quinn and her muscular dance pro Alyenendrov Tsorokean – earned the night’s only perfect score of 40 with a routine that included breathtaking lifts and spins, danced to the song “Bla Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha.”
  • Wearing one of the most stunning sequined dresses of the evening, second-place finisher Rhonda Whitaker brought a fun contemporary approach to the Cha Cha with her pro Josh Tilford, danced to the popular and upbeat song “Uptown Funk.”
  • Third-place finisher Jeff Thomas played a lifeguard in a red t-shirt with an eye for the girl in the polka-dot swimsuit in a charming dance to the classic song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”
  • Fundraising Champ Michael Betz showed off his best Freddy Mercury moves with pro Doreen Beatrice to a rousing medley of the rock group Queen’s greatest hits.
  • Phil Gill parodied his local Tom Gill Chevrolet TV commercials with this Dad Tom, who was on stage giving his son advice on how to meet a girl (his perky pro Desiree Mainous– by dancing her into his big (toy) car!  Phil and Desiree performed to, of course, the song “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car.”
  • A second “Uptown Funk” Cha-Cha featured Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, who channeled her inner Tina Turner in a bright-red fringe dress and an ear-to-ear smile during her dance with pro Jozsef Parragh, sporting bright red shoes to match Jan’s dress.
  • Heidi DeJonckheere did the Queen City proud with a fun and energized Cha-Cha with dance pro Brandon Etheridge to a mash up of Cincinnatian Rosemary Clooney’s hit “Sway” and the electronic dance mix “(Mucho Mambo) Sway.”

Presenting Sponsor: TriHealth 

Silent Auction Sponsors: Graphic Village, Lenox Wealth Management, Paolo A Modern Jeweler, WOW Windowboxes 

Event Sponsors: Arthur Murray – Cincinnati, Doreen Beatrice, Bonita Brockert, Brandon Etheridge, Graphic Village, Jozsef Parragh, Pebble Creek Group, Phoenix Rising Ballroom, Josh Tilford

Libations Sponsors:  Biltmore Estate Wines, Heidelberg Distributing, Pepsi 

Event Committee:  Amal Daoud, Terry Foster, Sue Gilkey, Jim Howland, Ginger Loftin, Rosemary Schlachter, Phil Schworer, Tracey Skale

Cincinnati Arts Association’s Education & Community Engagement programs promote life-long participation in the arts, while contributing to individual, organizational, and community success. With a mission to educate, inspire, and engage the Tri-state region, these accessible arts programs ignite the imagination of students of all ages.

The Overture Awards is one of several programs ‒ which also include Artists on Tour, SchoolTime, Emerging Arts Leaders, and more ‒ that have served more than 1.6 million children and adults since the inception of CAA’s Education & Community Engagement programs two decades ago. CAA is proud of its newest initiative, Arts in Healing, which promotes wellness through the arts.

The Overture Awards – the largest locally-run, high school arts scholarship competition in the country – recognizes, encourages, and rewards excellence in the arts among Tri-state students in grades 9-12. It also provides students an opportunity to share their talents and interests among their peers in a supportive environment outside of their individual schools. Each year, more than 450 students are nominated by their schools to compete, and this year’s competition awarded $42,000 in scholarships for excellence in Creative Writing, Dance, Instrumental Music, Theater, Visual Art, and Vocal Music. To date, the Overture Awards has awarded $750,000 to support artistically-talented students in pursuit of their dreams. Now in its 22nd year, the Overture Awards was launched in 1996 by the Cinergy Foundation and Leadership Cincinnati (a Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber program).

As part of the Overture Awards, the Arts Educator Award for Excellence in Arts Instruction promotes and rewards excellence in arts instruction throughout the Tri-state region – just one more way to encourage quality arts in Cincinnati USA!

For more information about CAA’s Education & Community Engagement programs, visit

Founded in 1992, the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) is a not-for-profit organization that oversees the programming and management of the Tri-state’s finest performing arts venues – the Aronoff Center for the Arts and Music Hall – and is dedicated to supporting performing and visual arts. Each year, CAA presents a diverse schedule of events; serves upwards of 700,000 people in its venues; features the work of talented local, regional, and national artists in the Weston Art Gallery (located in the Aronoff Center); and supports the work of more than one dozen resident companies.

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