It was disco fever as Ryan Rapier hustled his way to win Dancing With the Graham County Stars

Ryan Rapier and his dance partner, Allysa Baccus, bask in the glow of being the first-ever winners of Dancing With the Graham County Stars competition. - Gila Valley Central Photo

By Brooke Curley

SAFFORD – Many tried and some succeeded well, but it was Thatcher Councilor Ryan Rapier who hustled his way to first place with his disco routine at the Dancing with the Graham County Stars on Saturday. Call it fate or call it kismet, but the man in the loud 1970’s attire dancing the disco went home with the mirrored-ball trophy.

The Graham County stars put their five practice classes to use, strutting their dance moves for three judges and a hefty audience at the David M. Player Center for the Arts. After every dance performance, the judges gave their reviews.

Joe Goodman was the judge with the easy-going points and the sweet reviews, while Rachel Jacob was the relentless judge questing for that certain toe-tapping perfection. Judge Jodie Judd was the sweet in-between who literally sat between the two extremes. However, with the comedic and charming performances of the stars mixed with the fun-loving charisma of the judges, the audience roared with laughter and applause.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Pima Mayor C.B. Fletcher and his partner, Grace Johnson, received the lowest amount of points from the judges. But Fletcher also won the heart of the crowd with his adorable acting charm.

While Pima Mayor C. B. Fletcher’s Foxtrot scored the lowest points from the judges, all of them loved his adorable antics of whimsy and charm.

“You know, you are adorable,” Jacob said. “You are absolutely adorable. I want you to come back next year and do this again.”

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Thatcher Councilor Ryan Rapier did more than just stay alive with his disco dancing.

Rapier took home the trophy for the highest points of the night by dancing a nostalgic 1970s-era disco. To the judges, Rapier channeled his inner John Travolta with a sparkling blue shirt and white pants.

Jacob asked Rapier if he realized he bites his lip when he really starts to strut his stuff, just like Travolta is known to do as well.

After all of the star performances, an intermission was scheduled so the audience could cast their votes for who would take home the coveted mirror-ball trophy. During the intermission, the stars rejoined their families. During the time of the performance, the combined amount collected for the various charities in the Gila Valley was $7,000.

As the audience votes were compiled, the professional dancers of the Utah Ballroom Dance Company performed multiple breathtaking numbers. The professional dancers were given a standing ovation by the crowd for their beautifully-performed numbers, featuring everything from the Charleston to the Viennese Waltz.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: While the votes were tallied, the professionals of the Utah Ballroom Dance Company performed for the audience and garnered a standing ovation.

When the professional numbers were finished, the Graham Country Stars were called forward once more to the stage. Dr. Debbie Chapman and Rapier were the two finalists. With a drum roll and anticipation in the air, Rapier was pronounced the winner of the first-ever Dancing With the Graham County Stars competition. Rapier was dancing for the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center Foundation.

When Gila Valley Central caught up with Rapier, he said that he was going to go on vacation.

“In all actuality, in one week we’re going to Disneyland,” he said.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Safford Mayor Jason Kouts performed the swing with his instructor and partner, Liz Scurto.

Multiple Graham County Stars expressed their enjoyment in the contest and stated that they would love to come back next year. Safford Mayor Jason Kouts said he hoped there will be another competition next year.

“I hope that there will be good promotion to where this can come back and we have 2018 with a bang,” Kouts said.

Chapman told Gila Valley Central that while the competition isn’t in her wheelhouse, she actually enjoyed the dancing competition.

“This has been very enjoyable,” Chapman said, “I don’t dance. but I really enjoyed this.”