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Adults, students partner for dancing fundraiser

Tim Urness with Thrivent Financial in Alexandria and Laura Timm, senior at Alexandria Area High School, have fun practicing their dance moves for the Dancing with the Alexandria Stars fundraiser set for this Thursday. (Celeste Edenloff | Echo Press)1 / 4
Dance Coach Crystal Hoepner instructs the team of Andy Mellgren and Josie Nelson for the Thursday, April 20, fundraising event, Dancing with the Alexandria Stars. Hoepner is the director of Just for Kix, a local dance company. (Celeste Edenloff | Echo Press)2 / 4
Tim Urness and Laura Timm, who make up the team Timm and Tim, show off their dance moves during a practice week. The duo will compete in the Dancing with the Alexandria Stars this Thursday at the Alexandria Area High School’s Performing Arts Center. (Celeste Edenloff | Echo Press)3 / 4
Andy Mellgren lifts Josie Nelson into the air as part of their dance routine for the upcoming Dancing with the Alexandria Stars. Mellgren works for the city of Alexandria, and Nelson is a senior at the high school. Their team name is The Usual Suspects. (Celeste Edenloff | Echo Press)4 / 4

What do you get when you combine a senior at Alexandria Area High School who has been dancing since she was about 3 years old with a financial associate who is in his late 30s who has maybe danced twice in his whole life?

You get the team of Timm and Tim — one of the six sets of couples dancing in the first-ever Dancing with the Alexandria Stars, set for Thursday, April 20, at the high school's Performing Arts Center. A silent auction will take place at 6:30 p.m., with the show set to start at 7 p.m.

Laura Timm, a member of the Cardinal Dance Team, and Tim Urness, who works at Thrivent Financial, were paired together for the event, which is a fundraiser for the high school marching band and Community Education Performing Arts.

Urness jokingly said, however, that he was not the first choice; Carl Vaagenes from the Douglas County Hospital was originally asked to be the dancer paired with Timm in the competition.

"Carl was supposed to do it, but he called me up and said, 'Have I got an idea for you ...' Of course, I told him I would do it," said Urness with a smirk, adding that dancing is completely out of his comfort zone but he couldn't turn down this fun fundraising event.

Timm, who had never met Urness before they were paired together, said she's been having fun dancing with him and that he's not that bad of a dancer.

After Urness commented that she was the "smart one," Timm told him she would be sure to take the lead while they were dancing.

Andy Mellgren, manager of Downtown Liquor and Plaza Liquor, Alexandria's city-owned liquor stores, got a call from Lynn Jenc, director of Community Education.

"I thought she was calling me for ad support, so I immediately said I would help out," said Mellgren. After he realized what she was really calling for, he said, "Wait? What? I'll be dancing?"

He said the only other time he's ever danced before was at his wedding and it wasn't that great. But Mellgren loves supporting local fundraisers and so he told her he was in.

And so was Josie Nelson when she was asked by Mark Halvorson, Community Education Performing Arts manager.

"I was all for it," said Nelson, a senior, who is known more for her singing than her dancing. "The first time I really danced was when I was in 'Footloose.'"

"Footloose" was the high school's musical last fall.

The team of Mellgren and Nelson will be dancing together as The Unusual Suspects.

"It's been awesome, and Andy has been super fun to dance with," Nelson said.

The choreographer

Halvorson contacted Crystal Hoepner, the program director for the Just for Kix dance team, to see if she would be the event's choreographer.

"I was excited and honored when Mark asked me," said Hoepner. "And it has been a lot of fun to work with the six pairs of high school students and community professionals."

Hoepner, who has been in the dance business for more than 15 years, said the high school students have all brought their own experiences through dance, theater and athletics, as well as their own unique personalities to the dances.

"I have been so impressed with their enthusiasm to be paired with an adult and work together on learning the dance steps," said Hoepner. "I have appreciated their commitment to coming to the dance practices, along with the extra practices they've been doing at home and with their dance partners."

She also gave praise to the adult community leaders.

"They have all put more time into this event than I think we all anticipated," Hoepner said.

Hoepner said the dancers have six great routines to show off, plus some surprise moves and that it is "definitely a show you don't want to miss."

Jenc said that over the last few years, there have been several brainstorming sessions for ideas to showcase local talent while creating extra revenue for the performing arts series.

"We are most excited about this being a fun community showcase of students and brave community members," said Jenc. "It has been a joy watching how our community is supportive this initiative. The fundraising portion of this event will be a bonus."

About the event

Dancing with the Alexandria Stars is Thursday, April 20, at Alexandria Area High School's Performing Arts Center. A silent auction will take place 6:30 p.m. with the show set to start at 7 p.m.

There are six pairs of dancers in the Alexandria Dancing with the Stars:

• Carol Wenner, "Definitive Woman" magazine, and Jaran Roste, senior — The Defiant Gophers

• Scott Teaser, Massman Automation Designs, and Chloe Schmidt, senior — Team Teaser

• Amy Allen, Alexandria Community and Technical College Foundation, and Henri Santelman, senior — Can't Stop

• Crystal Christianson, Studio C Salon, and Jackson Grove, junior — Team Fanny Pak

• Tim Urness, Thrivent Financial, and Laura Timm, senior — Timm and Tim

• Andy Mellgren, city of Alexandria, and Josie Nelson, senior — The Unusual Suspects

The judges for the competition are:

• Brad Lambrecht, music teacher at the high school

• Cami Pexsa, Community Education

• Chrissy Harris, Knute Nelson

• Joe Korkowski, KXRA Radio

There are three categories the dancers will be judged on including:

• Dance Champion, which is based on entertainment, technical skills, timing and choreography

• Fan Favorite/People's Choice Champion, which is chosen by crowd appeal

• Social Stars Champion, which is based on fundraising voting for each dancer

There are two emcees for the evening: Lynn Jenc from Community Education and Mark Anthony from KXRA and KOOL-TV.

How to get tickets

Tickets for the event are $12 for adults and $6 for students. They can be purchased in person at the Community Education Box Office at 1410 South McKay Ave. in Alexandria, by phone at (320) 762-3310, online at or at the door.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste Edenloff, a reporter for the Echo Press, has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from May of 1999 to February 2011, and is happy to be back and once again sharing the stories of the people in this community. Besides being a reporter, Celeste is a certified fitness instructor and enjoys teaching bootcamp classes through Snap Fitness. She also enjoys running and has participated in more than 170 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.


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