Home Features Vote Now for Your Favorite ‘Dancing for a Brand New Me’ Couple!

Vote Now for Your Favorite ‘Dancing for a Brand New Me’ Couple!


One of Susanville’s most spectacular fundraising events of the year is coming up on October 19th and 20th, and organizers of the Dancing for a Brand New Me show say tickets are going fast for both Friday and Saturday night performances.

This is the fifth year for Lassen Family Services’ dance extravaganza. The competition features six well-known and talented community dancers who are paired with six professional dancers from local dance studios. The couples will dance to a variety of genres in three competitive rounds.

The competition is similar to network television’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with a panel of judges commenting on the performances at the end of each round.

“Dancing for a Brand New Me was created by the LFS team in 2014 as an attempt to bring something new to the community through outreach and entertainment with the focus on domestic violence,” explains Lassen Family Services Executive Director Melissa Downing. “Jennifer House, from House of Dance, was instrumental in bringing it from inspiration into reality.”

This year dancers will perform to musical genres including Famous Couples, Disney and a dancer’s choice round where any style is fair game.

Along with the evening’s dance competition there will be guest speakers, a vocal performance by Sherry Williams and dancers from J and J Performing Arts and House of Dance.

On Friday night the audience will get to vote for the People’s Choice winner – much coveted by the competitors because it is awarded by the crowd at the Veterans’ Hall. Fans of the dancers are also able to vote ahead of time online by making a donation to Lassen Family Services. Click here to donate and vote. Votes collected online will help decide Friday night’s People Choice Award.

On Saturday night a panel of judges will score each round with only three couples entering the finals. This year’s judges include local notables Officer Kristin Wilburn, Todd Eid, Stephanie Morgan, Brandon Pratt and Melyssah Rios.

Meet the Dancers

Seanne McElrath and Shannon Cook

Couple #1: Seanne McElrath and Shannon Cook

Seanne McElrath has been performing, choreographing and teaching dance for over 10 years. He began dancing as a cast member with Best of Broadway and has danced with House of Dance and J & J Performing Arts. He was an assistant Choreographer and Dance Instructor for the Marin School of Art. He has earned both a regional and national first place championship for solo artist in Dance with Showstoppers Dance Competition. He says that he is, “very privileged and deeply humbled to have been asked to be part of such a wonderful event for a noble cause.”

Shannon Cook and her husband have two wonderful boys, ages 5 and 3, and has worked at Banner Lassen Medical Center for 10 years as a Sonographer (Ultrasound Technologist). She also has a small photography business on the side.

“I was so excited to be a part of Dancing for a Band New Me because I embrace any opportunity to help those in need in our community,” explains Cook. “There are so many silent victims of Domestic Abuse, so any chance to bring awareness was a chance to give those victims a voice.”

Doria Dalu and Pastor Rick Conrad

Couple #2: Doria Dalu and Pastor Rick Conrad

“It is an honor to be invited back as a choreographer for ‘Dancing for a Brand New Me’,” says Doria Dalu who returns to Dancing for a Brand New Me for a fourth year. Being a victim of domestic violence, Dalu explains that it gives her pleasure to help raise awareness. Doria started dancing at 15 when her mother took her and her sister to a Polynesian dance studio in Buena Park, California. She went on to learn the Jitter Bug in their front room taught by her father.

As a senior in high school, she was asked to choreograph the high school play, which consisted of multiple jazz and ballroom style dances. A Polynesian number was thrown in too, for good measure. Having Polynesian dance as her forte, it wasn’t long after graduating that she started performing professionally.

Traveling to other states, Doria has performed in Las Vegas, and at Sea World in Florida, Ohio and San Diego. She has also performed at NFL linebacker, Jr. Seau’s wedding, and filmed a special with singer, Wayne Newton and comedian, Ruth Buzzy. Last year she was honored to re-join Susanville’s Best of Broadway’s choreography team. This year she is happy to be a part of Lassen Family Services’ ‘Dancing for a Brand New Me’.

Pastor Rick Conrad and his wife, Dana, say that they have had the good fortune of calling Susanville their home for the last 29 years.

“As a pastor, I’ve seen the great need in this community for the programs and help offered by Lassen Family Services,” explains Pastor Conrad.

“I’ve also seen the amazing results of those whose lives have been turned around and bettered by embracing the programs and help given at LFS, always free of charge. I am privileged to have a small part in this great event to further the work and the vision of Lassen Family Services.”

Celeste Wiser and Larry McCracken

Couple #3: Celeste Wiser and Larry McCracken

Celeste Wiser was born and raised in Susanville and has been dancing for more than 15 years in various community productions.

Wiser has been at J & J Performing Arts since the beginning, performed as an original Classified Dancer and completed spent 9-years in Susanville’s Best of Broadway. She was a Linfield College Cheerleader, a soloist in the Susanville Symphony Ballet “Elements” and more.

Dancing, according to Celeste, is a way to express herself with her body by releasing her emotions through her movements.Wiser is a Registered Nurse with a Masters in Nursing Education and currently she is the full time instructor Lassen Community College Licensed Vocational Nursing Program. Celeste is also a dance instructor at J & J Performing Arts.

Wiser says that she feels truly blessed to have the opportunity to pursue both of her passions, even if that means that she is always on the go. She couldn’t do any of this without the love and support from her family, husband, KC Wiser and daughter Rhys.

Larry McCracken was born and raised in Susanville by parents Linda and Terry McCracken. McCracken says that his parents engraved in him the perfect example of a loving marriage and a life free of domestic violence.

He is married to his beautiful wife Jesse McCracken of 8-years and has 4 amazing children: Kadence, Madison, Brennan and Cody.

McCracken currently works as a mechanic at Sierra Army Depot and has raced dirt-track modified race cars in regional competitions for the last 14-years.

He has a passion for community involvement and is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing event to raise awareness to domestic violence here in Lassen County.

Alex McElrath and Shantel Thompson

Couple #4: Alex McElrath and  Shantel Thompson

Alex McElrath began dancing during high school in a ‘Vocal Stage Ensemble’ where he was introduced to Best of Broadway and has participated for a number of years. While performing in Best of Boadway, he met Jennifer House and began taking dance lessons under her instruction. He then became an instructor.

Currently, McElrath teaches at House of Dance. Knowing it to be a truly worthy cause, he has participated in Dancing for a Brand New Me since the beginning and is now married to the woman with whom he partnered the first year.

Shantell Thompson was born and raised in Susanville, left in 1999, and returned 4-years ago to take the Assistant Manager job at US Bank. Thompson became the Branch Manager in April of this year.

“I loved growing up here and enjoy the community,” says Thompson. “I am always looking for a way to give back, I wanted to do Dancing for a Brand New Me because of what LFS does for the community and domestic abuse awareness. I also wanted to try something fun and out of my comfort zone!”

Luke Petersen and Kristie Jiminez

Couple #5: Luke Petersen and Kristie Jiminez

Luke Petersen is the son of Brent and Jennifer Petersen, growing up in Susanville and  graduating from Lassen High School.

After high school Petersen traveled to Argentina for a two-year mission trip then went to Nebraska for wrestling. He says that he, “learned to dance and have not stopped.”

Kristie Jimenez moved to Susanville when she was 5-years old, married her high school sweetheart and they have 2 children, Miah and Gage.

Jimenez enjoys camping, running and spending time with her family.

She says, “I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful fundraiser and am dancing to help raise awareness.”

Terra Avilla and David Teeter

Couple #6: Terra Avilla and David Teeter

Terra Avilla was born and raised in Reno, Nevada where she attended University of Nevada majoring in Criminal Justice and Spanish. After working as a police officer for three years in Reno, she moved to Susanville with her husband to start a family.

Avilla is the proud mama of a very active three-year-old, Anna, aka ‘Peach’ and a six month old daughter, Pearl. Both daughters have been helping with dancing with late night living room dance parties.

She currently works at the Susanville Police Department where she has worked for four years. In her free time, you may see Officer Avilla running (please give her ample space), shooting, singing in her car, spending time with her family and/or annoying her loving co-workers.

She says that she is honored to be participating in Dancing for a Brand New Me.

David Teeter was raised in Susanville where he lives with his beautiful wife Rebecca and his two wonderful children, Zane and Chloe.

After graduating from Lassen High School, Teeter got a history degree and then worked in various facets of the book industry all over the Pacific Northwest.

He came home to become a partner in his family’s store, Margie’s Book Nook in Uptown Susanville, where he carries on the legacy of service and bookselling excellence that his parents Larry and Margie Teeter instilled in their family.

Teeter also serves as a Lassen County Supervisor. While no dancer, he hopes to entertain and enlighten in Dancing for a Brand New Me.


You can donate money and vote for your favorite couple to help give them a boost in the Friday night People Choice award. Head over to Lassen Family Services’ page on Facebook and choose your favorite couple. It costs $1 per vote and there is a $5 minimum. Make sure after you make your contribution of votes you comment which couple you would like your votes to go to.

Tickets for the performances, which will be held at 7:00p.m. both Friday and Saturday, are $20 a piece and are available at Lassen Family Services, 1306 Riverside Drive. You can call (530) 257-5459 for more information. All proceeds go to Lassen Family Services helping serve local victims of abuse.

It isn’t all about the dancing however.

“Through this show,” said Downing, “we hope to bring education and awareness to domestic violence as a community issue, inspire our community to speak out against domestic violence and bring forward hope and empowerment to victims. Only, together we can make the difference in the lives of others and in our community.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month across the nation and here locally Lassen Family Services has reached out to our community through a series of events and projects aimed at raising awareness and acknowledgment of a crime that is truly heinous in nature – domestic violence.

According to Lassen Family Services 40% of California women will experience physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

There is a long history behind Lassen Family Services. The private, non-profit organization was founded in 1979 and relies completely on federal, state and foundation grants and public donations to provide a lengthy list of free services to our community; domestic violence and sexual assault rape crisis counseling/intervention, emergency shelter and transitional housing, 24-Hour crisis line, sexual assault response team, Court Appointed Special Advocates program, child abuse treatment program, legal assistance/court advocacy, parent education, prevention education, law enforcement and hospital accompaniment, emergency food and clothing, emergency and non-emergency transportation and community referrals.

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