William & Mary First Gentleman Bruce Jacobson’s enthusiasm to be involved in the Williamsburg community has led him to spots on the board of directors for public television station WHRO and William & Mary Hillel, the Jewish student organization on campus.
It also inspired him to participate in a fundraising dancing competition called Dancing with the Williamsburg Stars (DWTWS) that has been popular among W&M representatives throughout its 13-year existence.
Jacobson, spouse to W&M President Katherine A. Rowe, is one of 10 contestants for this year’s DWTWS competition, nine individuals and one team, who will perform live Feb. 26 at Crosswalk Community Church.
“I’m finding being involved in these organizations is just a great way for me to get to know the area,” Jacobson said. “As you can imagine, Katherine is so deeply involved in everything William & Mary. It’s nice for me to look outside of that.”
Dancing with the Williamsburg Stars is a fundraiser benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Virginia Peninsula and Literacy for Life.
Donations can be made by clicking links attached to each contestant’s page on the DWTWS website. The opening goal for each contestant was $5,000, which Jacobson has already surpassed. But he is still behind the fundraiser leaders and is asking for all the help he can get. In addition to sponsoring the “Stars,” patrons can attend the event in person. Tickets are available on the DWTWS website.
The fundraising goal for this year’s entire production is $70,000. This year, DWTWS eclipsed $1 million in total donations raised over the 13 years of the event.
“They’re two great organizations with terrific missions, and all the money raised is split between these two charities,” Jacobson said. “It’s easy to see the connection between raising money and improving the community. To find mentors to work with kids who may not have them and to help folks learn to read and become more self-sufficient in the community is really important to having them be productive in their lives.”
DWTWS contestants train and perform with dancing professionals. Jacobson is paired with Adelle Carpenter, the owner and director of the Virginia Regional Ballet in Williamsburg.
The theme of this year’s competition is the Roaring 20s. Jacobson and Carpenter will perform a fast-paced jive dance to the song “Hit the Road Jack” and will be accompanied by the William & Mary cheerleaders for an introductory skit.
Before Christmas, Jacobson and Carpenter worked on the basic steps of their routine, and recently they’ve been fine-tuning their moves and adding elements to make their dancing more visually appealing. They typically meet for hour-long rehearsal sessions two to three times a week.
Jacobson has learned some nifty moves while prepping for the upcoming competition, but he says he still has nothing on Rowe, who is more of a natural on the dance floor.
“Katherine loves to dance,” Jacobson said. “And she’s very good.”
Jacobson joins a long list of William & Mary representatives who have participated in past DWTWS competitions, including Vice President for Strategic Initiatives & Public Affairs Henry Broaddus, who won the competition in 2019. “The more I talk to people, the more I realize anybody who’s got roots in this community either has done it or knows somebody who has,” Jacobson said
Nathan Warters, Communications Specialist