For dancers and coaches, the 2019 Battered Persons’ Advocacy Gala and Dance Competition is a chance to hone their skills and compete for top honors. For the audience, it’s a chance to help victims of domestic and sexual violence while enjoying the performance.

Douglas County residents will have two opportunities this month to watch the dance competition. The gala will be held from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 23 at Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville. The more modestly priced BPA Premiere Night starts at 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Umpqua Community College Jacoby Auditorium. It serves as a dress rehearsal, but it has grown in popularity over the years to become a fundraiser in itself.

Dance coaches Kendall Scott, Devin Scott and Hannah Spagnola said 40 local dancers have been practicing hard for the competition, which was founded by Valéria Ball a few years before her untimely death in 2016. Last year, the events raised $80,000 for BPA, which shelters and advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

“Everybody’s ready and excited for the coming performances,” Spagnola said. “I feel like these last practices we’ve had, everybody’s worked really hard on polishing just the tiniest of details and making sure that we’re in sync,” Spagnola said.

She said the dancers have found it an uplifting experience to work together for the cause.

“People come with maybe a little bit of understanding about BPA and what they do and leave with a much larger sense of what we do and who we’re here for. They walk away with a sense of ownership, of being part of it and being able to have helped change somebody’s life for the better,” said Spagnola, who is also a BPA board member.

Spagnola is coaching performers in the foxtrot competition, which she said could be considered foxtrot on “steroids.”

BPA Director Melanie Prummer said watching the foxtrot dancers “you’re on the edge of your seat the whole time, and it gives you goosebumps.”

Devin Scott is coaching swing dancing, and his wife, Kendall Scott, is coaching hip-hop. Devin Scott said he likes the swing dance because it gives couples something else to do in Roseburg.

“It’s a small community, so we don’t have a ton of couples things going on. This gives everybody the chance to not only donate their time but spend time with their significant others, too,” he said.

Kendall Scott said the dancers, all volunteers, are so enthusiastic they’ll add their own extra practices at home and send videos to the coaches to make sure they’re doing well.

Alek Skarlatos, who took third place on the TV competition “Dancing with the Stars” in 2015, will be one of the judges for the gala. Other judges include Marisa Fink, director of YMCA of Douglas County, and Melissa McRobbie, a dance instructor and coordinator of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council.

A people’s choice award will be given at the gala, in addition to the judges’ awards.

Prummer said each night will include guest performances in addition to the dance competitors. The gala will feature a salsa performance from a Grants Pass studio and a dance from Roseburg instructor Summer Fry’s dance team. Leap of Faith dance center will perform at premiere night.

Tickets for the gala are available at bpadancecompetition.com/tickets, by emailing melanie@peaceathome.com or at the BPA office at 1202 SE Douglas Ave. Tickets for the premiere night can be purchased from a dancer, at the door or by contacting BPA at 541-957-0288 or melanie@peaceathome.com.

The cost to attend the gala is $75 per person or $560 for a table seating eight. The event includes a social hour and dinner. Guests will have the opportunity to dance after the show. Admission for premiere night is $10 for adults and $5 for children and UCC students with student ID.

Spagnola said premiere night was started a few years ago to give dancers the chance to perform before a small audience and “get the jitters out” before the big performance. It started with a little room and 50 audience members.

Then it started growing. They moved it to an elementary school, and 150 people came. Last year, UCC offered Jacoby Auditorium for the event and 400 people came. The dress rehearsal has become a fundraiser unto itself, offering those who can’t afford or can’t attend the gala a chance to contribute.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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