By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Photo by KRISTIE AKIN/Ventura County Star

Thousand Oaks High dancers perform with ‘stars'

October 3, 2014

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - A geometry teacher at Thousand Oaks High School, Kamran Salem admits his discomfort preparing for his role in "Dancing With the T.O. Stars."

"It's miserable for me because I'm not a good dancer, and the last thing I want to do is this, but sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit of yourself to give to the community," the Agoura Hills resident said.

Salem and his dance partner are among 16 couples to perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the school during the third annual fundraising event for the school's dance program.

"I did it last year," Salem said. "It's a lot of fun, and it brings some awareness to the dance program. Everyone affiliated with the program is doing such a phenomenal job."

The fundraiser is modeled after the television show "Dancing With the Stars," said Dana Fukagawa, of Studio City, head coach of the varsity dance team at Thousand Oaks High.

"It's basically like the show, only we use our own dancers as the pros and the teachers, students, football players, band members as the stars," Fukagawa said. "Six are teachers or faculty members, and 10 are students from freshmen to seniors."

The two-hour show will feature 16 styles of dance, including hip-hop, country line dancing, salsa and ballroom.

Jason Loose, who teaches Chinese and geometry on campus, will perform ballet folklorico to the song "La Bamba."

"I'm not really a dancer, so I had to learn," said Loose, of Thousand Oaks, who also performed during last year's fundraiser.

"I had a really fun time last year; it's really cool to learn something that I don't usually do. It's great experience," Loose said. "And the whole dance program is just so much fun to interact with. There's just so much energy and enthusiasm, and that's really cool, and they're also all very good at what they do."

Loose's dance partner, 2008 graduate Elisa Stolze, said the dance program changed her life when she was a student at Thousand Oaks High.

"I had no training. I was horrible. I had two left feet. I couldn't even clap my hands," said Stolze, 24, who now serves as an alumna coach for the dance program.

"Through this program, I could be myself and let everything out, and then people started to notice me for the first time," Stolze said. "Dance changed my life."

The fundraiser is expected to generate at least $10,000, which will help pay for dance competitions, charter buses, hotels, costumes, shoes, lighting and other aspects needed to run the dance program, said JaLeen Murphy, of Simi Valley, director of the dance program at Thousand Oaks High.

"Our parents pay a certain amount; ... monthly dues pay for about a third of the cost of the program," Murphy said. "The families sacrifice everything just to pay that third. They're not sure they can afford it, but they find ways because they see the benefit. It's life-changing."

General admission at the fundraiser is $10, with elite seating for $25 and VIP seating for $50.

"This is more worthwhile than going to a movie because guests are supporting their own community," Murphy said. "These kids are going to benefit. If you want your money well spent, don't do the R-rated movie. Come here and watch this"

Learn more: Call 522-5591 for more information.

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