Renaissance with the Stars dance-off combines entertainment with philanthropy

Only a global pandemic last year could put a stop to the decade-long run for one of the top annual fundraising events for the local African American community.

Renaissance with the Stars, a local spinoff of the popular national TV show Dancing with the Stars, makes a proud return to the Tobin Center this Saturday night featuring a talented cast of local volunteer dancers paired with professional partners – all in good fun while serving the great cause of bolstering the work of the San Antonio Area African American Community Fund (SAAAACF), a community charitable fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation.

“We’re ecstatic to bring back Renaissance with the Stars to San Antonio,” said Bobby Blount, a community leader and SAAAACF’s Chairman of the Board of Directors. “In this time of difficult challenges, we want to give everyone a moment to smile as our Star Dancers and their professional dance partners give their all – in service of our community.”

The event is named after the Harlem Renaissance, the renowned artistic period in New York City. For the last decade, it has annually brought together elected officials, community advocates and church leaders volunteering to show what they’ve got on the dance floor. They’re judged by audience members (in-person and virtual), who make online donations when voting for their favorite dancer.

This year’s cadre of volunteer contestants couldn’t be any happier and prouder to become part of the tradition.

“I have watched SAAAACF volunteers work tirelessly every year to raise funds to enhance the quality of life for the African American community in San Antonio,” observed Lisa Brunsvold, the Area Foundation’s Vice President for Development and Donor Services. “I’ve wanted to find a way to support the work.”

For fellow volunteer dancer Lawrence G. Chretien, the challenge has been primarily to serve as a good role model for his children.

“I am extending myself so that they can see me doing the same thing that I ask them to do: Take a leap of faith, learn something new, dare to fail in order to be successful, accept the discomfort and grow through it,” Chretien shared. “Most importantly, I want them to understand and appreciate how giving back affects our community.”

Giving back is also the main driver for dancer Andrea Nicholas: “I’m dancing because supporting SAAAACF is a wonderful way to assist an organization with accomplishing its mission.”

Dancer Ondrejia Scott hopes to take advantage of the opportunity to channel her inner artist. “I dance because it is a form of expression,” she said. “Throughout human history, we have used dancing as a way to build relationships, celebrate and tell stories. My partner and I hope that our personalities radiate through our movements!”

If people are interested in learning more about the volunteer dancers and their professional partners as well as how to donate by voting for their favorite dancer, they can click here.