The 2020 Dancing for a Brand New Me participants, Billy Hoffman, Doria Dalu, Amanda Tannous, Josh Blackburn, Elizabeth Darley, Luke Petersen, Tara Bias, Seanne McElrath, Celeste Wiser and Jimmy Crandall, pose. Photo by Stephanie Blakeman Photography

Dancing For A Brand New Me to entertain, raise awareness this weekend

A spark of light during a year when so many events seem to be canceled: The highly anticipated fundraising event, Dancing For A Brand New Me, is returning to the Susanville stage!

The event, which features five teams of professional dancers paired with Susanville Stars, is in its seventh year and supporters can snag a ticket to one of the two nights of socially-distanced entertainment, at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, or Saturday, Oct. 17, at Arnold Field at Lassen High School. There will also be an option to watch through a live-stream, donations suggested.

Dancing For A Brand New Me is Lassen Family Services’ primary fundraising event to support services provided to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. These services are provided for free and in part rely on the support from the local community and the online community in general.

The dancers are Celeste Wiser and Jimmy Crandall, Amanda Tannous and Joshua Blackburn, Elizabeth Darley and Luke Petersen, Doria Dalu and Billy Hoffman and Tara Bias and Seanne McElrath.

During the show, not only will attendees get to watch great dancing, but they can hear from Impact Speaker Eric Perry, owner/ administrator of Diamond Peak Boys Home, and on the Friday night performance, the Lassen High School drill team and cheerleaders will get to perform in front of a crowd during what would’ve been a home football game.

“I have such a love for this event and the people that give selflessly to it,” said Lassen Family Services Executive Assistant Carla Dollar.

This event, she said, is one that shows the extent of support from Lassen County residents, from those who look forward to and support the fundraiser, to the dancers, tech crews and coordinators. About 20 people help with just the planning portion and another 20 to 30 help bring the show to life.

“For Lassen Family Services it’s huge to have the community involved helping to spread awareness of what Lassen Family Services offers,” said Dollar.

She elaborated that this event really helps cover costs that grants don’t, like the mortgage on the shelter.

While the show has an important cause, it’s also an exiting time to cheer on friends, family and Lassen County neighbors as they dance their hearts out.

One of the Susanville Stars, Bias, is looking forward to the show.

“I was asked a few years ago (to participate) and the timing wasn’t right for my family. I didn’t know much about the event, so when I found out that it was a fundraiser to help domestic and sexual violence victims, I knew it was something I wanted to be part of. Unfortunately, I was exposed to domestic abuse as a child. It is sad and scary for everyone involved. It is important that we can educate, encourage and help those in our community who often go unheard, unseen and live in fear. When I was asked again this year to participate, I prayed and I knew that this was the year. I am super excited,” Bias wrote.

This year’s theme, The Roaring 20s, will be slightly different than past years. There will be social distancing, masks are required and temperatures will be taken at the gate, but Dollar is grateful the event is still going on.

“We’re so thankful that public health approved us and are working to keep us safe,” said Dollar.

After four different plans were presented to public health for approval — ranging from the optimistic normal show at the Veterans Memorial Hall, to the more drastic live stream only and no audience show — the outdoors event was approved.

Dollar also expressed appreciation for Lassen High School and their willingness to work with Dancing For A Brand New Me.

While the dancing teams have two nights to exhibit their talents, the work behind the scenes started months ago.

“We have been practicing since July, mostly during our lunch breaks, so we did not have to take too much time away from our families. We are definitely adding more hours now that it is getting so close and our families usually join us at our practices and help critique,” said Bias.

Overall, the teams are ready to show off their skills and participate in a fundraiser that’s been going strong for seven years, raising awareness and supporting local domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

“I actually cannot say enough praise about the event. The team is amazing and all their hearts are focused on the cause. Our community has been so supportive and kind. They are so willing to sponsor and support. I am super excited that we actually get to perform in front of a crowd. It will feel amazing getting to be together as a community again. So make sure you come out and watch the show. And if you are asked to participate in years to come, do it! You won’t regret it. It really has been one of the best experiences,” wrote Bias.

Tickets for Dancing For A Brand New Me can be purchased online at lassenfamilyservices.org, or can be purchased at the event.

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