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Locals to Shake Their Groove During ‘Dancing With the Queens Stars’ on Friday

Rob Basch, president of the Hunters Point Park Conservancy and Valeria Olaya-Florez, a Cumbia dancer based in Middle Village.

An annual neighborhood dance-off competition that pits duos against each other will take place Friday. Valeria Olaya-Florez (L) and Rob Basch (R) pictured before last year’s event (Photo via Queensboro Dance Festival Instagram page)

Nov. 3, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

Who has the smoothest moves in Queens?

An annual neighborhood dance-off competition that pits duos against each other will return to Long Island City Friday with a slightly different twist.

Dancing with the Queens Stars will see duos – consisting of one member of the Queens community and one professional dancer– dance-off against one another at Culture Lab LIC, located at 5-25 46th Ave. The event will take place on Nov. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the facility’s parking lot.

A panel of judges will determine the couple that has the best moves and the pair will then get local bragging rights for the next 365 days.

This year organizers have opened the dance floor to the wider Queens community, whereas in previous installments it was primarily Long Island City residents who were partnered with a professional dancer. The event was formerly known as Dancing with the LIC Stars—first launched in 2018.

The event is a fundraiser for the Queensboro Dance Festival (QDF) – a local non-profit that organizes free performances around the borough. Tickets are priced at $25 each and the event will also include a silent disco following the dance competition.

Karesia Batan, QDF founder and director, said dancers are excited to compete in the flesh again given that last year’s event was hosted online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s been such a challenging year for our dancers and live performers, we [are] excited to throw a party for everyone to celebrate being in-person again,” Batan said.

“The dance competition is so much fun and held with such a great community spirit,” said Batan, who is co-hosting the event with Rob Basch, president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, a neighborhood non-profit.

Performers who will be taking part in the Dancing with the Queens Stars event Friday in Long Island City (Poster provided by the Queensboro Dance Festival)

The dance-off will see five teams battle it out for the championship title with each duo performing one, 60-second dance routine.

Contestants will twirl, groove, and spin in front of a panel of five local judges who will ultimately decide on the best pairing.

Additionally, there will be an award for the most popular dance couple with the audience getting to choose the winner. Each attendee can vote for their favorite pairing by making a $1 donation on the night. Each $1 entitles the attendee to one vote and the couple with the most votes will win, Batan said.

There will also be guest performances by members of two local dance schools—Salsa in Queens and Dynasty Breaking. Free refreshments will be provided by Long Island City eateries including Little Chef Little Café and Casa Enrique.

The silent disco will kick off after the competition at around 7:30 p.m. and will feature two live DJs. Ticket-holders will receive headphones in order to listen to the tunes and dance to the beats.

Attendees are also being asked to bring canned food to the event for LIC Relief, a local volunteer group that distributes food to people in need throughout the neighborhood. The group operates out of Culture Lab LIC.

Organizers are advising attendees to wear masks, although it is not compulsory.

Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

This year’s pair-ups are:

– Team Danielle: Danielle Brecker (Publicis Groupe) and Lulu Tan (RU Dance NY)
– Team Bhavna: Bhavna Punjwani (Queens Economic Development Corporation) and Chieh Hsiung (contemporary choreographer)
– Team Ari: Ari Holsten (Hunter’s Point Community Middle School teacher) and Lenea Stevens (Fanike! African Dance Troupe)
– Team Barbara: Barbara Etzel (The Corcoran Group) Antara Saha (Classical Indian choreographer)
– Team John: John Drinankle (Vice Principal PS/IS 78Q) and Erin Flynn (McManus Irish Dance)

This year’s judges are:

  • – Juan Castano, co-founder of the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company
    – Kelly Craig, co-founder of LIC Relief and president of the PS/IS 78Q PTA
    – Greg Mays, executive director of A Better Jamaica
    – Ebony Young, CEO of Ladies of Hope Ministries
    – Mark Christie, vice president of Hunters Point Parks Conservancy

Dancing with the Queens Stars poster (Provided by the Queensboro Dance Festival)

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