Brandon White & Aimee Wilson
Star: Brandon White
Brandon’s opportunity to start a dental practice was a blessing. In March 2014, White Dental Studio’s doors opened in Ashland as the only Gold Certified ‘Green’ dental practice between Portland and Northern California. Brandon also serves as a board member with Families for Community, a non-profit that supports families whose children experience disability.
Brandon danced once at his wedding, and very little before or since, but with an opportunity to give back to Sparrow Clubs, which has done so much for his own son, he couldn’t resist. It helps to have a friend in his partner, Aimee, who has asked every year, “When are we going to practice for you to be a star?” He is thankful for their generous donors, Aimee who encourages, Lauren who loves and supports, and his children who inspire.
Partner / Instructor: Aimee Wilson
Aimee has had extensive dance training from the California Institute of the Arts where she became a California Art Scholar. Aimee has also been fortunate enough to take master classes from some of the industry’s most innovative choreographers, such as Tyce Diorio, Allison Holker, JaQuel Knight and Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo (all featured choreographers from FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance).
Along with being passionate about dance, Aimee also believes in giving back to the community and has been a long time supporter of Sparrow Clubs. Aimee strives to be a positive role model for her dancers, not only passing on her love of dance, but also passing on a passion for helping others.
Connor Wist & Jacob Jagger
Star: Connor Wist
Once she finished high school in Colorado, Connor packed up her car and drove out to the Midwest to become a ‘tiger.’ She moved to Columbia, Missouri to earn her Bachelor’s Degree from the Missouri School of Journalism.
As May 2014 rolled around, Connor threw her graduation cap in Missouri and embarked on her next journey. She moved to Southern Oregon in September 2014 and began working at KDRV-TV NewsWatch 12 as a reporter. She loves finding new stories to share with the Rogue Valley and always stops to smell the wildflowers along the way. When Connor isn’t reporting, she can be found skiing on Mt. Ashland, running in the hills above Lithia Park or dancing at concerts on the Britt Hill.
Connor is beyond excited to be involved in this year’s DWTRVS. She is looking forward to getting back on stage to support an incredibly special organization.
Partner / Instructor: Jacob Jagger
Jacob has performed around the Rogue Valley as well as in Northern California and Hawaii. He teaches Ballroom, Latin, Swing and wedding dances. He teaches both private and group lessons. You can find him teaching at the Evergreen Ballroom.
Jacob enjoys Martial Arts, going to the gym, and teaching dance. This will be the third time Jacob will have been a part of the Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars event.
David Fresilli & Jennifer Berry
Star: David Fresilli
Dave relocated to Ashland in 2013, opening his own studio, Holistic Health & Fitness LLC. Dave works individually with clients through an integrated, holistic approach to healing the body and creating optimum health and fitness.
Dave loves pushing his physical/mental limits, and dancing with Jennifer Berry has definitely provided that opportunity. “Have you ever seen anyone move their hips as fast as Jennifer?” says Dave.
Dave would like to thank Sparrow Clubs for this wonderful experience to give back to those in need.
Partner / Instructor: Jennifer Berry
About a year ago after returning from a 5-month dance tour with the Utah Ballroom Dance Company, Jennifer became a Ballroom dance instructor, choreographer, and performer in the Rogue Valley.
Since returning to the Rogue Valley, Jennifer participated in the 2014 Dancing With the Rogue Valley Stars and absolutely loved it. She also became a board member for the local chapter of USA Dance. Jennifer has been getting to know and love many of the local dancers and has enjoyed starting her own Performance groups: Lady Styling, and Rueda de Casino Salsa!
Felix Lasin, Jr. & Karen Knokey
Star: Felix Lasin, Jr.
Last year, after 3 months on the job, Felix discovered he had Leukemia. He had to leave work and move back to Portland for treatment. After numerous chemotherapy treatments and a transplant, Felix is back in Southern Oregon and his cancer is in remission.
When Felix heard the story about how Sparrow Clubs began, he felt immediately connected. “I didn’t know what Sparrow Clubs was until my first DWTRVS meeting,” said Felix. The story of the first ‘Sparrow,’ also a survivor of Leukemia, hit home for Felix. He knows that no one fights alone when afflicted with cancer. Felix is here to do his part in supporting those in that fight.
Partner / Instructor: Karen Knokey
Donn and Karen have been part of many performance teams including: American Style Cha Cha and Rumba, Night Club Two-Step, Viennese Waltz and many others. They have participated in West Coast Swing and Night Club Two-Step competitions in Sacramento, San Francisco, Reno, Portland and Phoenix, Arizona. Currently, one of their favorite West Coast Swing Conventions, is right here in the Rogue Valley, put on by SOswing!
Jimmy Johnson & Cori Grimm
Star: Jimmy Johnson
Jimmy’s interest in a firefighter career began in high school when he volunteered for the Jacksonville Fire Department and then later for Jackson County Fire District 5. In 2013, he was hired by Fire District 5 as a career firefighter and has since been promoted to engineer. Even after achieving his dream job, he still puts in extra time as an ER Tech at Rogue Regional Medical Center and is also an EMT instructor for Rogue Community College.
Jimmy has always had a passion for helping others and his compassion and good-natured attitude is encouraging to others in their time of need. He enjoys being active and loves outdoor activities.
Learning to ballroom dance may be a little out of Jimmy’s comfort zone, but he feels extremely honored to be a part of such an amazing opportunity.
Partner / Instructor: Cori Grimm
Cori’s life calling is to build community through partner dancing. Her emphasis is on social dancing — having fun is a must! But, she also enjoys the creativity of choreography. She loves to get people of all ages hooked on dancing and is thrilled to get to work with so many kind, fun and interesting people like Jimmy and the rest of the DWTRVS crew.
Dancing is a family affair. Cori is grateful to her supportive husband and dance partner of 20+ years, John Ourant, for keeping the twinkle in her toes. Cori and John are the proud parents of two (dancing) kids, Calin and Alex. Cori would like to thank her dad, Bill Grimm, and his wife, Marilee, who share her passion for dance and who do so much to support her and the whole dancing community.
Julie King & Jay Feldman
Star: Julie King
Julie heads MWC’s Fertility Program, and she loves caring for women through many stages of life and is an experienced surgeon. She also owns and operates King Aesthetics, a local medical spa.
While she has a passion for music and dancing, Julie does not perceive herself as experienced or talented in either discipline. She is very excited to learn and experience performing ballroom dance. Helping others by supporting the Sparrow Clubs is making this experience especially enjoyable.
Julie enjoys most anything that keeps her active and moving. She has a hard time sitting still. Her favorite activities are wake surfing, snow skiing and running relay races.
Partner / Instructor: Jay Feldman
Since returning to the Rogue Valley in 2014, Jay has performed at various dance shows and musical performances to maintain his involvement in the local dance community. Outside of dance, Jay enjoys an active lifestyle and is happy to once again call the Rogue Valley home. In his first year as a dance partner for Dancing With the Rogue Valley Stars, Jay is excited for the opportunity to share his passion for dance and contribute to the Sparrow Clubs’ charitable efforts.
Kasey Kershner & Peter Kuhl
Star: Kasey Kershner
Kasey found a passion for journalism when she was just 13 years old. Over the last year and a half, Kasey has met several Sparrow Clubs families and attended Sparrow Clubs events. It has been an honor for her to share their stories on NewsWatch 12, and she has created some of her favorite and most rewarding segments with Sparrow Clubs. When asked to participate in DWTRVS, Kasey was thrilled to give back to the incredible organization.
Though Kasey has 16 years of cheerleading experience, ballroom dance has been a very new and exciting challenge. She would like to thank her partner, Peter, and the whole Kuhl family for helping her trade in her cheer shoes for dance shoes. She would also like to thank her family, and everyone who has supported her through this journey.
Partner / Instructor: Peter Kuhl
When Peter was thirteen, his sister found out about a New Year’s Eve Ball and basically ‘forced’ the rest of the family to go! Since then, Peter has spent hundreds of hours dancing. He participated in last year’s Rogue Valley Youth Ballroom Dance Competition, taking fourth place with his sister. Needless to say, she does not have to force him to dance anymore.
Peter gives special thanks to Cori Grimm and Jennifer Berry for being the best, most awesome dance instructors anyone could ask for. If it were not for them, Peter would not be participating in this year’s DWTRVS. He would also like to give a shout out to his siblings, Joseph and Colette, for all their help. Peter also
appreciates his Star, Kasey Kershner, for her competitiveness and excitement to raise support and awareness for local Sparrow Clubs.
Katie Shepard & Dave Kahn
Star: Katie Shepard
One of her core beliefs is service above self. Katie was the third lady President of the Rotary Club of Medford and recently completed her term as President of the Women’s Leadership Conference. Some of her favorite community projects have included: Mission of Mercy dental clinic; CAST for Kids; Project Community Connect; PolioPlus; and the Nature-playground at Hawthorne Park as part of the Chamber Leadership Class.
Katie is engaged to Ryan Hutchinson, who also works for Providence. They have three great kids: Alissa (14), Peyton (13) and Colby (9). Their blended family loves to spend time outdoors or watch movies together. Katie is especially proud of her son, Peyton, who will be very upset to know he has been mentioned in this bio. That’s a mom’s prerogative, right?
The honor to support Sparrow Clubs through Dancing with the Stars will now be added to Katie’s list as one of her favorite experiences. Thanks to everyone for their support!
Partner / Instructor: Dave Kahn
Dave and Rebecca also own Medford’s Firehouse Dance Hall. Dave teaches West Coast Swing as well as other dances at the Firehouse, the Evergreen Ballroom and other venues and schools in Southern Oregon—including North Medford High School.
Dave is the Event Director of SOswing Convention, a weekend-long, nationally sanctioned West Coast Swing dance event and competition. Dave collaborates with Rebecca on their two dance sites, soswing.org, and firehousedancehall.com. He writes SOswing News, the bi-weekly newsletter to spread the word and get out the details. Dave is avidly involved in West Coast Swing, and loves every minute of it!
Michelle Steffens & Chayanne Montiel
Star: Michelle Steffens
In 1998, Michelle started Interior Office Concepts, Inc., providing commercial furnishings, design and installation services to the Rogue Valley as well as projects that are out of state. In addition to supporting the wonderful efforts of Sparrow Clubs, Michelle serves as the Secretary for Greater Medford Rotary, has been very involved with Hearts With a Mission and is involved with many other local organizations that serve this community.
The opportunity to dance and raise funds for Sparrow Clubs families is something that she is very excited about! Michelle enjoys time with family and friends, winery events with great local bands, Britt Festivals, the occasional coastal getaway, supporting local business and being involved in local non-profit efforts. Michelle would like to thank Chayanne Montiel, her choreographer and dance partner with Salsa Ashland.
Partner / Instructor: Chayanne Montiel
Chayanne dances a variety of Latin dance styles that include Salsa, Bachata Cumbia, Merengue, Mambo, Danzon, Barracha, Charanga, Rumba and Bolero! He enjoys pop and African dance influences and creates his own dance fusion. His personal touches are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Chayanne is fun to watch and catches the attention of the crowd. His friendly and engaging personality makes visitors feel welcome and regulars feel at home. He brings energy to the crowd and brings people back for more. Chayanne’s mission is to bring Salsa dancing to people of all ages and dance levels.
Will Irey & Kristen Alleman
Star: Will Irey
Outside of work, you can find Will’s family running all over town between Ashton’s soccer, Addison’s ballet, and now Aiden will be starting soccer this fall. Will is eager to take on this challenge, help a great organization and hopefully dance his way to a trophy for his daughter Addison, who is a prior Sparrow!
Partner / Instructor: Kristen Alleman
Kristen started dancing when she was 6 years old by imitating the dancing of her sister. At 7, she started imitating hip-hop routines from music videos and taught those routines to her friends to do for school talent shows. When Kristen turned 13, she grew tired of imitating the routines of other people, and started choreographing her own hip-hop routines and performed these at various local events.
At nineteen, Kristen met Brett Alleman, now her husband, at the Evergreen Ballroom and started taking lessons from him. She first learned Latin dances such as Salsa, Cha Cha, Rumba and Argentine Tango, then Ballroom and Swing thereafter. Kristen dances because it’s the best way to be self-expressive and feel alive! Kristen enjoys being involved in DWTRVS where she is able to share her passion for dance with so many people that have the compassion to give to something as amazing as Sparrow Clubs.