Dance for cancer
What do extreme sports and the Cha Cha have in common? Adrenalin. What do Hip hop and snowboarding having in common? Nothing. That’s the whole point of Stars of the East – a new gala fundraiser designed by the Cancer Council of NSW.
Just like the TV show, Stars of the East pairs up 10 ultra-professional dancers with willing Eastern Suburbs participants, to learn a ballroom dance in just 8 weeks. No dance experience is necessary. For two people at BresicWhitney with more experience power walking and pumping iron, than peacocking or pirouetting around a ballroom, that came as good news.
That’s why we’re incredibly proud of Lincoln Westerman and Laura Lane who were both selected to take part in the Cancer Council – Stars of the East gala fundraiser. As the hairspray fills their nose and the adrenalin pumps through their veins, we know each will give their all on stage for a great cause. To find out how preparations were coming along, we caught up with both in the middle of their sweaty rehearsals.
“My hips feel like they need oiling,” says Lincoln, as he practices isolating his upper torso to perform his Cha Cha routine, one more time. Michael Bublé blares from a boom box in the brightly lit dance studio in Annandale, where Lincoln is attempting to perfect saucy moves with instructor Alicia Panetta.
“Lincoln is a perfectionist,” says Alicia. “He is very-committed and ultra-competitive. Whenever we meet up to do the training I can tell he has been practicing at home,” she says.
“It’s full on,” exclaims Lincoln, the whites of his eyes widening. “I can’t believe how tiring it is! Cha Cha is so energetic and so sexual. You’re trying to entice the other person to engage with you. It’s like a game you play or a formal method of seduction,” Lincoln says. “It’s mentally exhausting”.
The junior agent is putting on a brave face, despite the fact he’d be more comfortable doing a head spin on the dance floor, than performing the classic dance moves of Havana. “Right now, I’m feeling alright about it, but when it comes to crunch time, I’ll be nervous as hell. I need to practice in the mirror more!”
For second team entrant, Laura Lane, pressure is also mounting. She is determined to woo judges with her Hip hop moves to Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, plus, she wants to raise more money than anyone else in the comp. Her trainer Michael admires her determination. “From day one she told me she wants to win. For Laura’s there’s no other option,” Michael says.
According the Laura, the complexity of balancing her 2 year old son, a full time job and online study – the commitment has been more than she expected. “I’ve had severe anxiety for the last 6 weeks” says Laura, who aims to raise $10,000 by 7 November.
“I think my biggest fear is just freezing up there on stage and forgetting everything,” she says.
After 12 practice sessions, Laura has just this week upped the ante by adding more flips, kicks and tricks to an already complex dance routine.
“I used to do tap and ballet as a kid, in fact I did tap dance until I was 16 or 17 – but I haven’t done anything since then. The last thing I did was a solo. It was a tribute to my dance teacher who died suddenly of cancer. It was a routine we’d been practicing before she passed away, I knew it well, but when I got up there for the tribute concert I froze half way through and I couldn’t finish it. It was awful,” Laura says.
“I just keep thinking ‘it is 2 minutes of my life’” says Laura. “We are all very blessed and very fortunate to be where we are, and it will all be over very quickly – so I just have to do it and hope!” she says.
Her trainer Michael says this won’t happen to Laura on gala night. “Laura has a killer instinct which stems from her love of sport and her youth spent competing in snowboarding and playing competitive soft ball, soccer and athletics,” he says.
According to Michael, Laura’s edge lies in her daring approach to impressing the judges: “She is essentially a very competitive person. She is very committed to the whole cause. She doesn’t just want to win, she wants to earn the most money for the cause. When all is said and done, Laura Lane is playing to win.”
We wish Laura and Lincoln every success in the competition. Book tickets to the Gala at Easts in Bondi Junction on 7 November or donate to the cause here.