“When I first started the dance, I was frightened, my legs were weak and I didn’t know if I would make it though it,” Marcucci said. “But then when you hear the crowd that is cheering you on, it really helps a lot.”
Her lively country two-step to “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” ultimately swayed the judges and crowd and won her the mirror ball trophy in the inaugural “Dancing with the Tracy Stars” competition Saturday evening at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.
Marcucci, owner and broker of Pombo Real Estate and manager of Pombo Investment Group, was one of six community members who trained and performed with dance partners from the Utah Ballroom Dance Company.
Marcucci and Steve Abercrombie, Jim Haskell, Deborah Skinner, Julie Van Os and Kal Waetzig danced to raise money for local charities and the Grand Foundation, which supports programming at the Grand Theatre. Grand Foundation Executive Director Judy Daily said the dancing competition was a unique fundraiser for the organization.
“We love the opportunity to be able to showcase some of our wonderful citizens who are stepping out of their comfort zone to dance to raise funds for charity,” Daily said. “We have six big-hearted, wonderful people that are giving themselves, giving their time and giving money to make all this happen for us.”
Each local dancer performed a 90-second routine with a professional partner and was judged by a local celebrity panel: Matt Overton, a Tracy High School graduate and long snapper for the Indianapolis Colts; Barbara Matthews, former California assemblywoman and Tracy city councilwoman; and Shawn Kelley of M&M Builders Supply.
Members of the audience also cast ballots for their favorite dancers.
The Tracy stars practiced with their professional dance partners for an hour each day during the week leading up to Saturday’s show.
Marcucci said her only previous dance experience was on a small dance floor next to the bar in her home. She was paired with professional Andrew Blackburne for her dance number.
“I was sick in the beginning and missed the very first practice, so I was really nervous,” Marcucci said. “Andrew was such a great teacher, I was very fortunate I had him as a partner.”
Blackburne said that the first days of practice for the dance competition were a little rocky, but Marcucci picked up her dance moves fast heading into Saturday night’s competition.
“What I usually tell my partners before we go on stage is the only thing I expect from them is to have fun. She guaranteed me she was having fun the entire time,” Blackburne said. “We may have a slip-up once or twice, but we didn’t let it show, and I told her to smile the whole time.”
Marcucci’s performance earned a near perfect score from the judging panel — 29 points out of 30.
Matthews was impressed with Marcucci’s country two-step skills.
“You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl,” Matthews said, giving Marcucci a 9. “You looked to me like to this wasn’t your first rodeo.”
Overton, who confessed to being a fan of country music, praised her performance and gave her a 10.
Kelley also admired Marcucci’s form. “I’ll tell you, she has the best-looking legs up here.”
As fans shouted for a high score, Kelley turned to the audience. “I don’t think it’s up to me anymore. How can I possibly score? I want you all to give her the score.”
Kelley held up a 10 to cheers from the audience.
Van Os, who finished in second place by only four votes, fired up the crowd with a salsa dance set to “Ran Kan Kan” with her partner, Jesse Maher.
“It is very different — I’ve never done anything like this before,” Van Os said. “I’ve had experience in a competitive atmosphere that got me going and kept me practicing and wanting to get better and better and work harder.”
Van Os, co-owner of Athletic Perfection Cheer and Tumbling of Tracy, said she usually tried to avoid the limelight as a coach at her gym.
“At the last moment right before I went on stage, when I was very nervous, I talked to myself like I would talk to my kids,” Van Os said. “I told myself what I always told my kids, which is ‘You practiced hard, you worked your butt off, now go out there and have a blast and inspire this audience.’”
Van Os received a perfect 10 from all three judges for a total score of 30.
Overton recalled his days at Tracy High School, where Van Os was the leadership class adviser and banished him from the class.
“I’ll never forget that, and now it’s pretty cool to be in a position to grade you,” Overton said. “Julie, you were great, hot salsa perfection. I’m giving you a 10.”
Matthews said she enjoyed the Latin dance performance.
“I think everybody wants to learn to do the salsa now,” Matthews said. “We all hope we have a little more Latin in us than black beans and rice. Great job.”
Kelley gave Van Os the last 10 of the night.
“This was the dance I could not tell the difference between the pro and the star,” he said. “You were both fabulous.”
Marcucci was presented with the mirror ball trophy to end the show and said she hoped to return to next year’s show as a judge.
• Contact Glenn Moore at email@example.com or 830-4252.
Dancing with the Tracy Stars at a glance
Steve Abercrombie, who raised money for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, performed a foxtrot to “Fever.”
Jim Haskell, who raised money for Case for Kids, performed a swing dance to “You’re the One That I Want.”
Jeanette Pombo Marcucci, who raised money for the American Cancer Society, performed a country two-step to “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).”
Deborah Skinner, who raised money for Children’s Dance Theatre of Tracy, performed a waltz to “So This Is Love.”
Julie Van Os, who raised money for Case for Kids, performed a salsa dance to “Ran Kan Kan.”
Kal Waetzig, who raised money for Tracy Interfaith Ministries, performed a disco dance to “Hot Stuff.”