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Hitting the dance floor for hospice

The general sales manager of Port Coquitlam's Metro Ford Motors is the first to admit he's stepping out of his comfort zone.

The general sales manager of Port Coquitlam's Metro Ford Motors is the first to admit he's stepping out of his comfort zone.

Since June, Kent Magnuson - along with eight other high-profile business people and civic leaders working in the Tri-Cities - has been practising for Dancing With Our Stars (DWOS), a fundraiser for the Crossroads Hospice Society that will be held on Saturday at the Red Robinson Show Theatre in Coquitlam.

Magnuson and his partner Brooke Foster will rumba and swing to Elvis Presley's 1972 high-energy hit Burning Love, which starts "Lord almighty/I feel my temperature rising" - fitting lyrics given Magnuson's nerves on stage.

"I think before I go out, I'm going to have waves of panic," he said, "but I'm just going to go for it.

"Retreat is not an option."

Magnuson, like the other competitors, had no formal experience in ballroom dancing before he walked into the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in PoCo to begin lessons for the second annual charity event.

Most of the dancers were recruited by Dee Parry, DWOS chairperson and a Tri-City News' sales rep who brought the idea to Crossroads after seeing a similar fundraiser in the Okanagan, based on the popular television show. The contestants were chosen because of their service work and community status, she said.

"They are really brave for doing this," Parry said, "because this is all foreign to them. They've never performed like this in front of a crowd and we're so proud."

There have been some bumps along the way. One contestant pulled out for family reasons; another injured her foot badly away from the dance studio last month.

Still, Parry promises this year's performance will be just as good as the debut show, which was held at the Terry Fox Theatre in PoCo and collected more than $16,000 for the Port Moody-based hospice.

Besides the friendly competition, which includes prizes for best technical and best overall dances - decided by judges Cori Caulfield (Caulfield School of Dance), Mike Forrest (PoCo city councillor) and Chris Gallivan (Arthur Murray Vancouver owner) - there is top-notch entertainment.

Global TV anchor Steve Darling and Karen Daniels of JRFM - both DWOS competitors last year - will emcee, Damian Marshall and Karen-Lee Batten will sing and Port Moody secondary's Ben Freemantle will return home from San Francisco, where he is currently studying ballet, to wow the crowd with his cousin, Cecile LaRochelle, of LaRochelle Vocal Studios in Vancouver.

Danielle McLellan, who was asked by her BC Ambulance colleague Bob Lee to join him as a contestant, said, "I just love to dance so I'm going to enjoy this. It's also a great cause."

McLellan and her partner Darek Stiller will perform a burlesque-type number built around the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' cover of Phenomena.

Ballroom dance champions Barbara Ferchuk and Brent Smith, co-franchisee owners of Arthur Murray in PoCo, said the competitors' dance partners ensure the novices are guided properly.

"They're doing show dancing so, what's most important, is that they're smiling and giving it their best," Ferchuk said.

Tickets at $50 are still available for Dancing With Our Stars, and are at the door. The event is on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Red Robinson Show Theatre. Call 604-468-9403.

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Janine Davies (G & F Financial Group) with Darek Stiller

Diana Dilworth (Port Moody city councillor) with Johnny Lam

Bob Lee (BC Ambulance) with Brooke Foster

Kent Magnuson (Metro Ford Motors) with Brooke Foster

Scott Masse (Mardon Insurance) with Barbara Lynn Copprotary

Danielle McLellan (BC Ambulance) with Darek Stiller

Kyle O'Genski (Mr. Mike's Restaurant) with Christy Consell

Selina Robinson (Coquitlam city councillor) with Johnny Lam

Dan Stroup (assistant coach for Washington Stealth NLL lacrosse team) with Barbara Lynn Copp