TRAVERSE CITY — Steve Maas has performed plenty of lip sync routines — but only in the shower.
Now he’s about to go public on the SwingShift and the Stars stage.
The Lip Sync Battle is a new element in the event’s 11th season, and one “people are pretty pumped about,” said SwingShift and the Stars Founder Judy Harrison.
“We had a focus group at the end of last year and came up with some new ideas and changes, and that was one of them,” she said.
SwingShift pairs local “star” dancers and their partner-instructors with local business sponsors — also a new element — in live dance events to raise money for local nonprofits. This season many of the “stars” are the business owners or their staff and members or staff of the nonprofits.
“It adds a whole other level of community involvement and community commitment,” Harrison said.
Eight dance pairs will perform for donations to eight charities over four competition nights. Events take place at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and Dec. 14 at the City Opera House, one of the nonprofits selected to benefit this season.
Watersports business owner Saburi Boyer and instructor-partner Sharon Pascoe are dancing for Christ’s Hope International, which supports AIDS-affected children in sub-Saharan Africa. They got their choreography Sunday and rehearsed together for the first time Wednesday. But already Pascoe sees something special in Boyer.
“There’s a lot of potential,” said Pascoe, who won the competition with “star” Mike Baker in 2008. “He’s really committed to this. As soon as I met him, he said, ‘As much as you want to practice,’ I’m in.”
This season each dance pair will perform a swing dance to an assigned song and a lip sync routine to a song of their choice.
“I’m thinking Elvis is a potential or possibly ‘At The Hop,’” said Steve Maas, a physical education instructor at The Children’s House who is dancing with Jenny Rohlen to raise money for the independent Montessori school. “I’ve recruited some of my co-workers to be with me so I have some backup on the stage.”
Maas said he’s preparing for the competition by watching dance and lip sync routines on YouTube and TV’s “Lip Sync Battle” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He’s even teaching his wife the swing so she can dance with him for extra practice.
“I’m in good shape, but I’m not a dancer. There’s a difference,” he said. “The last time I danced was at my son’s wedding three years ago. Because I’m the dad I did the ‘old dad’ dance.’”
This year SwingShift will take place under the umbrella of the newly created nonprofit Community Impact Partners. Over its 10 years the event has raised $3.1 million for 96 charities, Harrison said.
“It’s really the organizations that are doing the fundraising” by getting people to come to the competition events and vote with their donations or to donate online, she said. “We’re just giving them an opportunity.”