Arts & Culturecalendar picks 1

Dancing with the Athens Stars

John Keane, Hugh Acheson, Dexter Weaver: these well known Athenians have all set down the instruments of their chosen professions at one point and danced for the common good. This year, Barbara Dooley, wife of Vince and recent knee-replacement recipient; Dave Shearon, co-owner of Ashford Manor; two Boston marathon runners and James Thaw, CEO of ARMC, will join their ranks. Dancing with the Athens Stars, one of Project Safe’s most popular and anticipated events, is in its sixth year, and the annual frenzy is peaking.

Project Safe, Athens’ domestic violence prevention and rehabilitation center, gathers well known and talented members of the Athens community and makes them vulnerable beginners at the mercy of a trained and patient dancer. Like the show from which it’s modeled, the dancer and the non-dancer practice and practice (some pairs have been working since November) to get stage-ready for an audience that the executive director of Project Safe, Joan Prittie, predicts will be over 1,000 people.

“Participants email their contacts; they have their businesses doing percentage nights; they have parties and other gatherings,†said Prittie. “That’s the beauty of this event, is that we have people from different walks of life who showcase the diversity of Athens and then go to their friends and colleagues in their parts of their community and talk about Project Safe.â€

The competition is one of the center’s biggest fundraisers. Prittie sets the fundraising goal each year at $100,000. It was close one year with $96,000, but it has yet to reach the magic number that makes up only 10 percent of Project Safe’s annual budget.

“For us, [the money] really is about providing client assistance and whatever it is that people need,†said Prittie. “We use it a lot for paying for motels when our shelter is full. We use it for lock changes and rent and out of town relocation.â€

Contestants can campaign for the audience favorite award, which is determined by the number of votes they receive before the competition. Voting is already underway at; one vote online gives one dollar to Project Safe. If you’d like to see the agony and ecstasy of the competition itself, get to the Classic Center by 7 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $20 and available at


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