With Kimberly Spanier in the lead, Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (SCC) Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) brings together a galaxy of local businesses and supports SCC’s Be Loyal to Local small business initiative. SCC’s Fourth Annual DWTS takes the floor Saturday, Nov. 12 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Country House in East Haven.
The stars certainly aligned for SCC when Kim first signed on to help out with DWTS four years ago. The North Branford small business owner is a classically trained ballerina and SCC board member. When Kim took on the role of DWTS chairperson two years ago, she put on a push to make SCC small businesses the event’s beneficiary.
“There really are so many opportunities the Chamber has to offer small business owners, from education programs like Small Business University to our more senior and seasoned professionals hosting topics that can help [members] succeed,” says Kim.
Kim and her husband, Jason, own Everything Under One Roof, LLC, a North-Branford based interior residential construction firm established in 2006. The Spaniers joined SCC, which combined into a Guilford and Branford organization a few years back (firms from any town can become members) because they recognized the opportunities to be gained. Kim was also one of the forces helping firm up SCC’s 2016 expansion into a tri-town chamber now representing Guilford, Branford, and North Branford.
As a busy mom of two, a business owner, and SCC board member, Kim says some of her friends and clients ask why she gets even further involved by chairing DWTS.
“Why not?” says Kim. “I’m just trying to pay it forward. Many of our small business owners live in town and if they do well and make money, they’re going spend it here. It’s also matter of making the connections. I know, as a business owner in the community, it’s to my benefit to meet everybody I can.”
DWTS is also close to Kim’s heart because of her dance background. Kim grew up in Connecticut; she and her husband moved back to their home state from Washington, D.C., choosing North Branford because they wanted to raise their children near family.
“I was a classical ballet dancer [starting] with one of the co-founders of the Hartford Ballet,” says Kim. “I followed her to Connecticut Concert Ballet, and I would do summer programs at Boston Ballet.”
Kim also teaches dance two nights a week at Backstage Dance in Killingworth. A bit closer to home, Kim supports another local small business, Starship Dance Theatre of Guilford, sending her two daughters to dance with founder Joyce DiLauro. In another community connection, Kim will join her daughters and the cast of DiLauro’s Magic Toy Shop to dance in its 25th holiday production in Guilford this year. The show has three performances set for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 at Guilford High School.
Kim also put her talent to work as a dancer at the very first SCC DWTS event four years ago—and won the Disco Ball trophy. As someone who’s been there, she has plenty of encouragement to give to the DWTS dancers, who never fail to impress the crowd.
“Some of them have never danced before! So they’re nervous. We’re putting them outside of their comfort zone,” says Kim. “But I think that really tells a lot about a person, when they’re able to feel confident in who they are, and going out for a cause. The night of the event is actually where we pick up a lot of dancers for the next year, because they’re in the audience and they see what the other people were able to do.”
This year, 14 dancers take the floor as seven couples. Since September, they’ve been training with Peter Konow, owner/instructor at Arthur Murray in Guilford. The dancers span the spectrum to include local pros in plumbing, retirement planning, tanning spas, hairdressers, merchants, banking, tech services, home services, real estate sales, medical services, and fuel provision.
“The Chamber’s side involves getting the sponsors and the dancers, and they all represent local businesses,” says Kim. “Peter pairs them up, assigns them a style of dance, and then does the choreography. Peter and his wonderful staff commit to giving every couple 10 lessons, and then the dancers take the floor.”
Each couple will strut their stuff during two-minute numbers representing different decades of dance, from the 1950s through 2010. Dancers are Tina Cusmano and Joe Becker of Golden State Tans (1950s); Georgia Day of Yale Shoreline Medical Center and José Cuapio of Floor Craze (1960s); Denise Mangano of East River Energy and Peter Sikes of Shoreline Pixels (1970s); Keira Cervoni of Guilford Savings Bank and Jordan Mann of Squeri Agency (1980s); Tammy Becker of Golden State Tans and Jeremy Bossio of Retirement Planning Partners (1990s); Tatjana Reynolds of Tatjana and Eric Shutt of Platinum Home Services (2000s); and Jen Asbury of Spice & Tea Exchange and Mark Muszynski of Guilford Savings Bank (2010s). This year’s DWTS event opens with vocal performances from students of New Haven Academy of Performing Arts (NHAPA). NHAPA co-founder Neal Fuentes (aka “The Singing Chef”) serves as the night’s emcee.
“From the students’ performance, we go into the dance competition, and then Arthur Murray gives a performance at the end,” says Kim. “It’s $60 a ticket, and it comes with dinner and dancing and a whole lot of entertainment. It’s a really a fun night, and it usually sells out.”
Kim’s also big fan of SCC’s DWTS because it not only helps SCC buoy up small businesses, but offers so many different businesses a chance to get involved and be showcased.
“People don’t feel small business is a cause to be supported, but they have such a great purpose in the community. If we can get people to shop locally, the tax dollars stay in our community,” says Kim, adding, “Dancing with the Stars is really about serving everybody. The Chamber has Taste of the Shoreline, which serves restaurants, and the Chili [Branford] and Chowder [Guilford] challenges pair up restaurants with retailers [and non-profits], but it’s hard to find that catch-all event that it doesn’t matter what your business is, you can be a part of it.”
DWTS even rolls in local CPA/CVA David Bailey of Branford firm Bailey Murphy and Scarano, LLC, to tabulate results and present the shining Disco Ball trophy to the winning dance team. Sponsors also take away a Disco Ball trophy to thank them for their support.
From the dancers to the sponsors to Kim’s dedicated committee of six, and all of the others involved in shining an annual spotlight on DWTS, “these people are out here, working every day, trying to make a living and better our community, “ says Kim. “So support them!”
To purchase tickets for the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce Dancing with the Stars on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Country House in East Haven, visit www.shorelinechamberct.com through Nov. 12.