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The 2017 performers for Dancing at the Stars. Back row, from left: Miranda Whitworth, Phillip Fernandez, Chris Parlier, Marnie Forzetting, David Moreno, Lisa Krch, Roland Brown, Karen DeWalt, Shay Brandon Burke and Andrea Kohler. Front row, from left: Stefani Dias, Cody Garcia, John Zaninovich, Tara Shearer, Aaron Perlman, Marilyn Stone, Kelci Lowry, Willie Rivera, Bethany Rowlee and Scott Winkler.

Dancing at the Stars, the annual fundraiser for Stars Theatre Restaurant, might not boast the likes of Simone Biles, Mr. T or Nancy Kerrigan like the ABC competition show from which it gets its name, but the local celebrities who will be taking the stage are still stars in our eyes.

The dancers will have to channel their inner Hollywood stars if they want to win on April 8. Dancers not only have to impress the audience and wow the judges, they also will be their own hype-man, drumming up support for Stars by way of $1 votes in the days leading up to the event. It's a lot of work for the stars, but a lot of fun for the guests, said coordinator Jennifer Resolme. The event, which covers styles from disco to hip hop and tango to swing, regularly sells out.

"They're having a lot of fun," Resolme said of the stars. "A lot are taking it very seriously and want to win."

Though many of the dancers are now feeling the nerves start to set in, it wasn't hard to get them on board, Resolme said.

"Some you don't even have to finish the sentence; they say yes right away," she said, adding that others require a little more encouragement. "I think there are some people that are waiting to be asked. We hope to continue with this as long as we can, especially now that Stars is secure."

Fundraisers like Dancing at the Stars, which Resolme said raised around $30,000 to $40,000 last year, have been key to keeping Stars open in the past. The theater's financial status has recently stabilized, thanks to a new lease as of last week.

Before their dress rehearsal debut on April 7 and the big performance the next night, the 10 celebrity competitors took some time to answer our questions. Who's preparing by practicing steps at the grocery store? Who's worried about splitting pants? Who is making a contingency plan for his or her partner in the event of freezing up? Read on to find out.

Dancing01

Karen DeWalt of Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame, with choreographer Roland Brown

Karen DeWalt, sales and marketing at Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame; partnered with Roland Brown

How have you been preparing?

Roland and I have been rehearsing since day one, two to three times a week.

What are you most nervous about?

So far nothing, just don't want to forget the routine, and (I want to) make Roland proud.

How do you think you'll do?

Hopefully fantastic! I'm in it to win it!

Why should people come see you dance?

I'm very passionate in what I get involved in and (I'm) working very hard. I want people as they mature to not stop doing what they are passionate about.

Dancing02

Stefani Dias, assistant entertainment editor at The Bakersfield Californian, with choreographer Cody Garcia

Stefani Dias, assistant features editor at The Bakersfield Californian; partnered with Cody Garcia

How have you been preparing?

Physically, rehearsals and cardio. Mentally, listening to the song on repeat, watching "Dancing With the Stars" and hoping the judges won't be as harsh as Len.

What are you most nervous about?

Remembering to engage my core. It makes every move look better but is the easiest thing to forget to do.

How do you think you'll do?

At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, I'll do my best. The last time I danced in front of an audience it was with a glass of water on my head, so this has to be better.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

As far as collecting votes, my work is cut out for me. But when it comes to determination, I'm tough to beat.

Why should people come see you dance?

I write about the arts for a living but this is probably the only chance to see me as an active participant. Everyone is excited to support Stars and, having attended the last two competitions, I can tell you it's a great night no matter who wins.

Dancing03

Prosecutor Andrea Kohler, with choreographer Shay Brandon Burke

Andrea Kohler, prosecutor; partnered with Shay Brandon Burke

How have you been preparing?

My preparation has been listening to my song over and over and doing the steps in the grocery store, the gym, waiting in line.

What are you most nervous about?

I am most nervous about totally freezing up and forgetting the routine.

How do you think you'll do?

I think I will have fun and, to me, that would be a success.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

I think Aaron Perlman has such a big personality that he will be major competition.

Why should people come see you dance?

I think people should come see me dance because the whole evening is going to be a blast and it is all for a wonderful cause.

Dancing04

Lisa Krch, public information and communications manager at Kern High School District, with choreographer David Moreno

Lisa Krch, public information and communications manager at Kern High School District; partnered with David Moreno

How have you been preparing?

I'm launching a carefully constructed marketing strategy (that may or may not involve doughnuts) and I meet up with my choreographer as often as I can. He's a remarkable dancer and great teacher and we're having a blast. My boys love that I'm busting moves around the house practicing nonstop these days. They know mom's in it to win it!

What are you most nervous about?

Wardrobe malfunction. Hair, not clothing. I also tend to get very intense when I dance and I'm afraid I'll make faces that will have my partner laughing hysterically. It happens in rehearsal on a regular basis.

How do you think you'll do?

With a strong marketing strategy (that most likely involves doughnuts), the overwhelming support of family and friends, and the sheer genius that is my choreographer, I'm predicting a strong showing and solid top three finish!

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

There are two celebrity dancers I have my eye on.

Aaron Perlman, because EVERYBODY loves the weatherman, and Miss Miranda Whitworth, because she is a marketing machine. Full disclosure, I have known and worked with these talented individuals for years and I adore them both!

Why should people come see you dance?

First and foremost, I encourage people to support the arts and all the wonderful things Stars Theatre brings to our community and especially into the lives of our young people.

Our performance is a high energy, engaging routine that pushes the envelope on all fronts. The music selection is AMAZING, and it will be fun to watch from start to finish!

Dancing05

Bakersfield City Council member of Ward 7 Chris Parlier, with choreographer Marnie Forzetting

Chris Parlier, Bakersfield City Council member of Ward 7; partnered with Marnie Forzetting

How have you been preparing?

About a month.

What are you most nervous about?

Dancing in public.

How do you think you'll do?

I have a great instructor, so hopefully okay

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

There's some great participants and I'm sure the competition will be stiff.

Why should people come see you dance?

It's an opportunity to have a fun night and support a great local arts theater.

Dancing06

Eyewitness News morning anchor and weather forecaster Aaron Perlman, with choreographer Marilyn Stone

Aaron Perlman, Eyewitness News anchor and weather forecaster, radio DJ and worship leader; partnered with Marilyn Stone

What's your claim to fame?

Besides being a television anchor, weather forecaster, radio DJ and worship leader for Bakersfield First Assembly ... my claim to fame was when I auditioned for "So You Think You Can Dance" and ripped my pants on LIVE TV. Yep.... that happened.

How have you been preparing?

I have been watching every Shirley Temple, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movie to learn my dance moves.

What are you most nervous about?

Splitting my pants again!

How do you think you'll do?

We will win! Marilyn is the best dance instructor. Besides... I've practiced at least once.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

My partner... Marilyn. She is so good. It will be tough to match what she is doing.

Why should people come see you dance?

To raise money for Stars Theatre. ... PLUS... my pants may split again!

Dancing07

Bakersfield City Council member of Ward 1 Willie Rivera, with choreographer Kelci Lowry

Willie Rivera, Bakersfield City Council member of Ward 1; partnered with Kelci Lowry

How have you been preparing?

My choreographer, Kelci Lowry, and I have had a few dance lessons so far. She's wonderful and very patient.

What are you most nervous about?

Falling off the stage.

How do you think you'll do?

If I don't manage to fall off the stage, I'm going to call it a success.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

Definitely Scott Winkler and Chris Parlier.

Why should people come see you dance?

If they're looking for a good laugh and an all-around fun time, I definitely wouldn't miss it.

Dancing08

Miranda Whitworth of Kern Federal Credit Union, with choreographer Phillip Fernandez

Miranda Whitworth, marketing manager at Kern Federal Credit Union; partnered with Phillip Fernandez

How have you been preparing?

We've been exchanging a lot of text messages and trying not to cancel too many of our scheduled practices. Phillip and I perform best under pressure, so we're letting it build until the stress of the looming deadline forces us to get it together. We're also doing cardio.

What are you most nervous about?

We do have some moves planned that require him to lift and carry me. I'm worried about back injuries and my own bruised ego. But he's a strong guy; I'm sure he can handle all this.

How do you think you'll do?

I think we'll do great. We're both in it to have a good time. We're gonna let it all hang out, do some things the crowd won't expect and hope that it all looks good from a distance.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

The people with the richest fan base. If I win, it'll be by the Bernie Sanders method of fundraising: lots and lots of people with teeny tiny donations. In all seriousness though, Lisa Krch does not play around when it comes to utter domination. She's going to be a tough one from an energy standpoint. That woman never ceases to amaze me.

Why should people come see you dance?

There aren't a lot of spaces where you can see regular people really put themselves out there in a big way. When you're on that stage performing your heart out, you don't know what the reaction could be. Will I look okay? should I really be dancing in public? What would my dad think about me pulling this move? All of the dancers know they are taking a risk, but we are doing it for a cause that makes our city a better place. You have to support that right?

Dancing09

Attorney Scott Winkler, with choreographer Bethany Rowlee

Scott Winkler, attorney; partnered with Bethany Rowlee

How have you been preparing?

To be honest, my preparation has been one of a player because I feel fortunate to have a coach like Bethany. She was very likely the choreographer that drew the least talented dancer, and instead of giving up, she has provided me with a game plan and way to attack this dance to maximize my extremely limited skill set, and make this dance revolve around who I am and my personality. The biggest preparation is teaching me how to count to eight, and attempting to place rhythm in a rhythmless person. It's much more difficult than snapping the ball on one, and hitting someone.

What are you most nervous about?

Pretty much everything as soon as the dance begins. I've been fortunate to deal with butterflies my whole life, whether it was school or sports, but this is a world completely outside anything I've ever done, therefore the entire dancing routine scares the hell out of me!

How do you think you'll do?

Wow! To provide a completely honest answer, I have asked Bethany to come up with at least two alternative plans if I completely just go blank on stage. I hope I am able to remember my steps, and make this feel like a proud accomplishment.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

Undoubtedly, myself! I'm excited to help the Stars Theatre, but I'm not sure anyone is eyeballing Winkler and saying, "With all his dance experience....he's going to be tough to beat!" I'm sure there are many great dancers, but I promise we will have fun!

Why should people come see you dance?

Hopefully, if it works out, the audience could witness a complete evolution from someone who has never danced to possibly a person that looks a shade over pathetic but still not quite average, and have a good laugh as well!

Dancing10

Courtesy of Stars Theatre Farmer John Zaninovich, with choreographer Tara Shearer

John Zaninovich, farmer; partnered with Tara Shearer

How have you been preparing?

I am lucky that I have such a great partner! She is doing her best to make a dancer out of me but as long as everyone watches her, we should be OK!

What are you most nervous about?

Not really nervous about anything. It is going to be fun no matter what.

How do you think you'll do?

Tara has been such a great teacher that I think I will do OK. But as far as votes, not sure. Vote for me!!!!!!

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

All of them!!

Why should people come see you dance?

Oh, people should come watch for sure. Where will I mess up??? You never know!

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