Allegan General Hospital surgeon Matthew Ralph and his partner, dance instructor Gerah Dutkiewicz, promise a spectacular dance show.During rehearsal, Allegan General Hospital family physician Lou Praasma hams it up with his dance partner Tarin Abraham. Vicky and Drew Isola aren’t doctors, but their doctorates fit the bill for “Dancing with the Docs.Rounding out the MD teams are retired Bronson Methodist Hospital doctor Lynn Kern and his dance partner Julie Spiech.

It’s MDs vs. PhDs in dance competition

Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

This year’s annual fundraiser for Wings of Hope Hospice, “Dancing with the Docs,” will pit the PhDs against the MDs.

At least that’s what partners Drew and Vicky Isola said while rehearsing for the dance show that will hit the stage on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. at Griswold Auditorium.

While Drew wore a Dr. Pepper T-shirt that said, “Trust me I’m a doctor,” his wife Vicky wore a tandem T-shirt that said, “Not that kind of doctor.”

Drew has a PhD and is a physics and math teacher at Allegan High School. Vicky has a PhD and is a visiting professor of biology at Hope College. Both coach the Science Olympiad teams at Allegan Public Schools.

For the past 34 years, the Isolas have been in step together as husband and wife. Their dance moves go further back when they met as dance partners in their college production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Vicky has choreographed a disco dance performance that offers surprises for the audience.

“I encourage all the students to represent the high school by out-doing the hospital in voting,” Drew said as the rivalry began.

One of the MDs the Isolas will be competing against is Matthew Ralph, a surgeon at Allegan General Hospital.

It didn’t take much convincing to get Ralph in the competition. He likes to dance, “do crazy stuff,” and is an avid fan of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Dancing with the Docs is loosely based on the TV show. It not only includes doctors and doctorates competing to win the dance competition, it also includes Allegan High School’s TV production media students getting some experience filming dance couple bios for promotions and screening at the stage show.

Ralph’s partner is Gerah Dutkiewicz, a zumba and dance instructor at The Studio and owner of Richmond Creative marketing.  

They are planning a dance routine that will include a bit of salsa, merengue, cumbia and reggae.

“It’ll be funky, casual and fancy,” Dutkiewicz said. “Our final version will be spectacular.”

Ralph said it’s all about the delivery.

“The judges are going to see a butterfly come from this moment,” he said. “And it’s for a good cause.”

Besides the Judges’ Choice award, a People’s Choice will be awarded at the end of evening for the doctor who gets the most votes from those in attendance.  

Attendees will be able to vote by paying $1 per vote and are encouraged to vote as many times as they like, which also adds more dollars to the pot for Wings of Hope Hospice, Wings Home and the community members and families they serve.

Other doctors competing for awards and bragging rights are Lynn Kern, a retired doctor from Bronson Methodist Hospital, and his partner Julie Spiech, a dance instructor at Patti Herm School of Dance.

Lou Praamsma completes the lineup. He is a family physician at Allegan General Hospital. His dance partner will be longtime zumba and dance instructor Tarin Abraham, formerly a principal dancer for Farrell Ballet Theatre.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth. They are available at the door or in advance by calling Wings of Hope Hospice at (269) 686-8659 or visiting 530 Linn St., Allegan.


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