Derek LeBlanc is out to prove that not all Gonzales police officers are flatfoots when he slides onto the stage at the Arc of East Ascension’s “Dancing for a Cause” event next month.
LeBlanc and his dance partner Alyssa Kling join a pool of 11 local “celebrity” dancers in the spirit of raising money for the Community Opportunities — the Arc of East Ascension to help support people with disabilities.
“The Arc of East Ascension raises a lot of money for people trying to help in the community,” LeBlanc said. “It brings a lot of good people out.”
According to Dancing for a Cause committee member Anita Cann, the event has raised more than $1 million during its six years of existence despite a low 2013 turnout that only brought in around $60,000. Cann said the goal is to get back to selling out the event as they’ve done in the past and continue to raise money for the cause.
Cann said this year’s proceeds will go to help fund any capital expenses the group will incur and to help fund vocational training programs for the disabled.
LeBlanc and Kling agreed the first goal of the event is to help raise funds for the organization, but they aren’t forgetting about the night’s competition either — especially when the competition brings with it an edge of family rivalry.
LeBlanc’s father, Constable and St. Amant Fire Chief James LeBlanc, competed in the Dancing for a Cause event two years ago, finishing near the top with a jitterbug dance to “Jailhouse Rock.”
The younger LeBlanc said he isn’t settling for anything less than a victory when he and Kling perform their lindy hop dance to the beats of “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” from the soundtrack of the latest film revival of “The Great Gatsby.”
“We’re going to win and we’re going to be champions,” LeBlanc said. “They’re going to give us the gold crown — or whatever it is that they hand out — they’re going to give Alyssa her first win after doing this for a couple of years and I’m going to be able to call (my father) and tell him that you just lost.”
Kling — who’s competed in the competition for the past three years — said LeBlanc has strong natural instincts when it comes to rhythm and counting off dance beats, and thinks the duo will be ready for the competition after only a little more than a month of working with each other.
Kling added that she is concerned about the group’s lift during the routine where LeBlanc will attempt to hoist her over his head. Both dancers said it’s preferable if he avoided dropping her.
But the pair won’t be without stiff competition come the big night. Both dancers said they’ve been keeping an eye on competitor Shelly Graham, whose ownership of Action Fitness has them concerned about how much her athleticism could play into her abilities on the floor.
“I would think (Graham) would be more flexible and graceful in her moves for whatever dance they’re doing,” LeBlanc said. The dancing lineup also includes Donna Villar, Brittany LeBlanc, Lisa Bacala, Stephanie Haas, Alsie Dunbar, Deron Talley, Dr. Harry Brown, Kent Schexdydre and Rick Dickmyer.
LeBlanc and Kling will finally get to see what their competition is made of July 12 when Dancing for a Cause kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
Attorney and past champion Ryan Chenevert and local radio personality Latangela Sherman will act as hosts for the night, while Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez, InfiniEDGE’s Czarina Walker, Attorney Matt Pryor and District Judge Jessie LeBlanc will be judges to crown this year’s top dancers.
Tickets are $25 at LeBlanc’s Food Stores in Gonzales and Duplessis or from the Arc of East Ascension office at 1122 S.E. Ascension Complex Blvd., Gonzales. Tickets are also available through EventBrite.com, PayPal.com and for $30 at the door.