By Jack Smiles, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
Tens are wild at the Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, as in 10 years, 10 couples and 10 dances. Ten years ago, Gina Malsky opened her own dance school at Arts YOUniverse in the Stegmaier Mansion. A year later, she bought the former Methodist Church on North Franklin Street, repurposed it as Downtown Arts and moved her dance school there. The former church is now a multi-tenant building for the arts featuring a 650 seat auditorium and stage.
Next month on April 6, to celebrate 10 years, the Dance Theatre will take over the Kirby Center main stage for a dance competition featuring nine well-known local “celebrity” couples: Dr. Tony and Danielle Bruno, Dr. Shawn and Michelle Casey, Cassandra and Jim Corcoran, Mitch and Taly Kornfeld, Bridget and Steve Husted, Dr. Harvey and Kathy Reiser, Dr. Glen and Dr. Cari Tellis and Gina Malsky and her husband, Leo. The tenth couple is a mystery couple from New York City.
Eddie Day Pashinski is the emcee. Kirby Executive Director, Will Beekman, and the Kirby Crew will open the show with a line dance routine.
Mitch Kornfeld, the owner of the Woodlands, is looking forward to the event. “I’m excited to work with Gina,” Kornfeld said. “It aligns with my personal mission. Family, business and community. I get to dance with my wife, keep the Woodlands name out there and raise money for a great cause. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Malsky is getting help with the choreography from former students Catherine Schaeffer, and Raphael Cooper and Lauren Timek, who Malsky helped prepare for a tryout when Timek made the New York Jets cheerleader squad, the “Flight Crew.”
Timek is a fan of Malsky’s. “Working with Gina is not really work. She’s fun to be around and ridiculously talented. It’s an honor to be involved in an event that coordinates dance and charity. That’s who Gina is and it makes me thrilled to be part of it.”
Billed as 10 Years of Excellence — A Celebration of the Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre — the event starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. Tickets are $25 at the door and $20 in advance and are available now at the Kirby Center box office or by phone at 570-826-1100.
Opening her own dance school was a natural evolution for Malsky, who has been immersed in dance and theater since childhood. In high school at Wyoming Area, she was a scholarship student at the Governor’s School for the Arts. She also studied on scholarship at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Wilkes-Barre Fine Arts Fiesta Board selected Malsky for the 2016 Howard B. Fredrick Friend of the Arts Award.
Among the many distinguished alumni of Dance Theater are Lauren Bilski, a former Miss Philadelphia and Drexel alumnus, now a physical therapist who raises money for a traumatic brain injury charity; Jessi Mendoza, a dance student at the Philadelphia University of the Arts and Kara Zahra, a University of Chicago history professor.
Search “DanceTheatreWB” on Facebook to learn how to donate to the charities in the name of these dancing couples:
Dr. Shawn and Michelle Casey — Miles for Michael
Taly and Mitch Kornfeld — JCA Early Childhood Education
Dr. Tony and Danielle Bruno — Little Eric’s Foundation
Dr. Harvey and Kathy Reiser — The Association for the Blind
Cassandra Coleman-Corcoran and Jim Corcoran — Paint Pittston Pink
Dr. Glen and Dr. Cari Tellis — PATA, Performing Arts Training Academy at Misericordia
Bridget and Steve Husted— Riverfront Parks Committee
Tatiana Medico Zambino and Lorenzo Medico — St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
Gina and Leo Malsky — Kevin’s Kause.