Dancing With The Stars Austin: A Dancer's Perspective

Cassie LaMere is the Event Marketing Director at Lexus of Austin and is a celebrity dancer in the Center for Child Protection’s 2014 Dancing with the Stars Austin. With the big night rapidly approaching, we wanted to get a dancer’s inside scoop on what it’s really like to train for a dance competition and to give back to the Center for Child Protection.


Incorporated in 1989, the Center for Child Protection is the only 501(c)3 nonprofit in Travis County involved in the investigation of crimes against children. The Center is a child-friendly, specially equipped facility where children who have been sexually abused, severely physically abused, or those who have witnessed a violent crime go for evidence gathering and intervention.


There’s nothing quite like the thrill of watching local Austin celebrities perform for a packed ballroom during the holiday season at Dancing with the Stars Austin presented by Lexus of Austin. I have been fortunate to attend the event for several years as an employee of Lexus of Austin and each time found myself dreaming of the day when I would get to take my turn on the dance floor. Well it was quite a surprise to find out 2014 would be my year, and it was time to put on my dancing shoes! It is such a privilege to be one of the 11 dancers asked to participate in raising money for the Center for Child Protection.

Dancing with the Stars Austin is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The level of talent and skill displayed each year continues to amaze me; the bar has been set very high for those of us dancing in December! What some people might not realize is the amount of commitment it takes to be a part of this event. I am lucky to have a great partner by my side, professional ballroom dancer Gary McIntyre. These professionals give countless hours of their time and talent to teach us, choreograph our dance and most of all; be patient. Let me just say, Karina Smirnoff wasn’t built in a day.

Our first lesson was on an unusually rainy Saturday in September. It was memorable since it’s not very often that Austin experiences a downpour, and I can break out my rain boots. I was feeling both nervous and excited for our first lesson, not knowing what to expect and wanting to do my best. The feeling was reminiscent of the first day of school. Gary and I dove right into the basics, and it wasn’t long before I was practicing steps up and down stairs and counting out the rhythms to our song.

What I appreciate most about this opportunity is it gives us all a chance to take on a new, exciting challenge. For most of us, it’s probably something we never thought we would do and for me, it was a welcomed opportunity to get back to an art form that I loved so much. I grew up dancing and had often thought of starting lessons again. Now, 10 years later, this experience has been quite a roller coaster ride and with less than a month left until show time, there’s still a lot of work to be done! On the days that are difficult or when the nerves set in, I try to remember the real reason why I am participating. While we are being pushed out of our comfort zone, the Center for Child Protection is hard at work trying to provide a place of comfort for a child who doesn’t know what that feels like anymore.

It’s not lost on me the significance of what this opportunity means and how through something as joyful and entertaining as dance we are directly impacting the lives of children in our community. That’s why it is my sincere honor to be a participant in this year’s Dancing with the Stars Austin and why I said I absolutely “Will dance for charity.” It’s time now to get back to lessons, but stay tuned as I share more of my journey to the dance floor this month. I hope to see you there on December 7th!

Dancing with the Stars Austin, presented by Lexus of Austin, will be held on December 7th, 2014 at the Hilton Austin. As the Center’s largest annual fundraiser, this event raises critical resources and awareness for child victims of abuse and their protective family members.


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