Anthy O’Brien is a Petaluma businesswoman, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a mom of six kids and grandmother to 11. But in a couple of weeks, she will be in the spotlight as a dancer, one of 18 performers competing in Dancing with the Stars, a benefit for the historic Raven theater in Healdsburg.
O’Brien will be dancing the jitterbug set to Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Her professional partner is John Ross, who owns The Ballroom in Rohnert Park.
“I’ve never danced,” says O’Brien, who owns , a telecom brokerage that helps companies with their telecommunications needs. “Getting my muscles to memorize new moves was harder than I thought. It’s not just memorizing what step comes after the other, it’s getting the muscle to memorize it too and getting comfortable with it.”
Told to remember the steps in any language that made sense to her, the businesswoman created a spread sheet, inputting every move from her 90-second-long routine.
O’Brien is already very involved in the Petaluma community, but said she decided to participate after hearing from one of her employees that the Raven, which was built in 1949, but has struggled financially in recent years, was seeking more dancers for the upcoming fundraiser.
“’I’m very supportive of live theater (including our very own ) and thought ‘Why not?’”
The event is modeled on the popular ABC show, "Dancing With the Stars," including the pairing of “local celebrities” with professional dancers. Other local celebs participating include Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke and Healsburg Patch Editor Keri Brenner.
Supporters can vote online for a $1 a vote, which will be combined with the judges’ votes. The event is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12 at 8pm and tickets are still available.
Practice started October 1, but ten days into her training, O’Brien suffered a pulled hamstring that sidelined her for a week. Now, she has resumed rehearsals, heading to Ross’s studio every day on her lunch break.
Besides the physical regimen of dancing, O’Brien says the experience has taught her how to be more forgiving of herself.
“We are so critical of ourselves because we are always moving so fast, so a big lesson I’ve learned is that we need to be more patient.”
For more info on Dancing with the Stars at the Raven and to purchase tickets, click here.