Local fans of the hit TV show Dancing With the Stars will soon have a chance to spend an evening with one of the show’s professional dancers. Tristan MacManus, the handsome Irishman who has waltzed with such “stars” as Gladys
Knight, Nancy Grace, and Pamela Anderson, will appear on January 26 at Princeton Dance and Theatre Studio (PDT) in Forrestal Village.
The one-night-only event, which is limited to 90 participants, is a fundraiser for Mr. MacManus’s charity Grassroot Soccer, which uses a soccer-based curriculum to educate children in Africa about AIDS. The choice of PDT as a venue came about by chance. The studio, which emphasizes ballet but also offers Broadway dance, hip hop, and other forms, has no connection to Mr. MacManus or Dancing With the Stars, a show that pairs professional dancers with celebrities in a competition; the current season ended last night.
But the mother of two former PDT students happened to be involved with DublinDown330, an organization that works with Grassroot Soccer to raise money and awareness. Donor Jeanne Richman was approached by the charity to help find a location for Mr. MacManus’s fundraiser, and she immediately thought of PDT.
“They were looking for a place on the east coast where Tristan could have a night to meet some of the people who have donated to the charity,” she said. “They asked me about Princeton, and I told them about PDT. It was a logical place. Tristan was interested when he looked at the faculty, because of its diversity. It’s not just ballet, it’s also about Broadway dance, and he loves anything that has to do with Broadway.”
Growing up in Ireland, Mr. MacManus, now 30, divided his energies between his two passions: soccer and dancing. “At one point he gave up dance for soccer,” said Ms. Richman, who has gotten to know the dancer through interviews she has done with him for his website. “He went back to dance, but he loves soccer and he has devoted a lot of time to raising money for the charity, which supports children in Africa and AIDS-prevention by using soccer in the curriculum.”
The initial goal was to raise $10,000 for a tournament
to be played in Los Angeles, where Mr. MacManus spends time while working on Dancing With the Stars. Some $19,000 has been raised so far, and the bar has been reset at $100,000, according to the website macmania.com.
Among the biggest fundraisers so far was a raffle for a dance lesson with Mr. MacManus. Some 800 people entered. The Princeton event is a way for the dancer to meet some of his supporters — the 799 who didn’t win the raffle, and then some. “He wanted to find a way to thank his fans,” said Ms. Richman, “not just for the charity project, but also for everything through his career, including Dancing With the Stars. He wants people to feel included.”
PDT’s size limits the number of participants in the event, but that’s part of the plan. “We wanted small,” Ms. Richman said. “It’s a meet and greet, with a lot of personal interaction. He won’t perform, but we’re trying to talk him into maybe doing a dance lesson earlier in the day.”
Ms. Richman is expecting a full house. Already, one “huge fan” of Mr. MacManus is flying in from
Finland for the event. Others, from Ohio, North Carolina, and other locations, have expressed an interest. “He’s very popular and has huge support on social media, but he wants everyone, including people who don’t use websites or Twitter, to be included,” she said.
“I am very excited about my January 26 Dublin-Down330 fundraiser that is being hosted by the very kind and gracious people at Princeton Dance and Theater,” Mr. MacManus said in a printed statement. “For nearly a year, I have worked diligently to raise awareness and support for Grassroot Soccer, a charity whose vision is ‘A world mobilized through soccer to create an AIDS-free generation.’ …. I am as passionate about football [soccer] as I am about dance …. This event is a chance for me to meet many of my very generous fans while continuing the next phase of our fund-raising. I am looking forward to being in Princeton and meeting many of you.“
Tickets are available at DublinDown330@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.macmaniacs.org/dublin