By Julia Purdy
RUTLAND – The Paramount Theatre stage sizzled with dazzling dance routines Saturday, Oct. 7 as seven local contestant teams competed in the seventh annual, sold-out Dancing With The Rutland Stars.
The event, which has become a highlight of Rutland’s entertainment scene, benefits Kids on the Move and other pediatric programs of the Rutland Area Visiting Nurses and Hospice organization. The final net had not been tallied as of press time, but past events have raised $135,000.
Two financial professionals made the unlikely pair that won the judges’ Mirror Ball Trophy. Reed Wilcox, a financial advisor with the financial planning firm Edward Jones on Merchants Row and a rank amateur, was paired with Sheila McCutcheon, branch manager of TD Bank in Manchester and a part-time dance instructor at Miss Jackie’s Studio.
McCutcheon said that a selection committee comes up with names of pros first, then brainstorm about people they know who are in the public eye in the community. “It was a surprise for both Sheila and I to find out we were going to be working with one another,” Wilcox told the Mountain Times, comparing the process to setting a blind date.
But at the contestants’ ice-breaker gathering in June, McCutcheon said, before she even knew he was her partner she read his body language and “I just saw him as a Michael Jackson in a [fedora],” she said.As the two began putting their routine together, Wilcox said. Michael Jackson resonated with both of them. “We both decided it would be really cool to do something different,” he said. Jackson’s hit “Smooth Criminal” has a gangster theme – “We were going for that noir, speakeasy feel,” said Wilcox.
They started practicing in June and met several times a week. Typically a recital performance takes almost a year to prepare, McCutcheon said.
“When I was practicing I couldn’t wait for it to be over,” Wilcox said. “It was pretty much work [his day job] and dance, work and dance. … It certainly feels bizarre now that it’s over, in the sense that it all felt like you were in a time machine.”
McCutcheon teaches lyrical dancing at the studio.
“It’s just so awesome to see them from the start to finish,” she said, “coming into something like this without any dance experience, not knowing what they’re getting involved with – they come in a little bit scared.” She especially enjoyed seeing the smile on Wilcox’s face when he started “getting” it.
Would Wilcox do it again? “I don’t know, perhaps, given the right circumstances,” he said. “I was humbled and honored to be a part of this.”
By B. Farnum Photography
Performers McCutcheon and Wilcox take a bow.