Yamaguchi to 'Dance the Night Away' for charity

Fundraising gala for Always Dream this Saturday

Kristi Yamaguchi will put her dancing shoes back on for "Dance the Night Away."
Kristi Yamaguchi will put her dancing shoes back on for "Dance the Night Away." (Getty Images)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(06/16/2011) - Since winning season six of Dancing with Stars, Kristi Yamaguchi has used dance as the theme for the annual fundraiser for her Always Dream Foundation. This year's "Kristi Yamaguchi's Dancing the Night Away" will take place on Saturday, June 18, at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco.

With Yamaguchi's former professional partner, Mark Ballas, off on a USO tour, Yamaguchi will dance with Jonathan Roberts, who studied the choreography for the quickstep Yamaguchi and Ballas performed on the show on YouTube.

"He's amazing and he's so great to work with," says Yamaguchi of Roberts. "It's going to be an amazing night."

Fellow Olympic gold medalist skater Evan Lysacek will return for his second "Dancing the Night Away." He will perform with his DWTS partner, Anna Trebunskaya, who is married to Roberts.

Former DWTS pros Edyta Sliwinska and Alec Mazo will also perform as will current pros Dmitry Chaplin and Karina Smirnoff. There will also be two teams from the Bay area, a young team and an older smooth team. Adding to the mix will be some non-ballroom talent from the other hugely popular TV dance show, So You Think You Can Dance: Katee Shean and Gev Manoukian.

"Gev (whose father is acrobatic skater Akop Manoukian) is doing one break dance piece. Katee is doing a contemporary piece. Then they're going to do something together," says Yamaguchi.

"Evan and I are the only celebrity dancers," she adds. "The rest are all professionals. The quality of dancing is going to be pretty incredible."

It's been a busy and exciting year for Yamaguchi, who saw her first children's book, Dream Big, Little Pig land on the New York Times Best Seller list.

"You cross your fingers," says Yamaguchi. "I kept pinching myself when we got a publisher.

"Then it gets published," she continues. "I thought, 'Wow, this is actually a book.' To have such a nice reception is fun. I tried to create something that is universal and has a good message. Would appeal to the young readers. It's definitely a labor of love and to see it have the success it has, I've been pretty giddy."

She admits to being a bit shocked with the Best Seller list, and she's very glad that she put the work in promoting the book. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Dream Big, Little Pig go to Always Dream.

Long a supporter of children's programs in the Bay area, earlier this month Always Dream partnered with Bring Me a Book to fund school libraries.

"What they do is try to provide classrooms in under-served schools with a library of appropriate books," says Yamaguchi. "We have given them a grant."

Yamaguchi attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Daniel Lairon Elementary School in San Jose, which commemorated the donation of 10 Bookcase Libraries to be installed in preschools and kindergartens throughout the Bay area. The event also highlighted the new partnership between to the two organizations to help build awareness about the importance of reading to kids.

Yamaguchi gave each of the 80 students she saw copies of Dream Big, Little Pig, a book that follows the adventures of Poppy the Pig, who has big dreams. Following her dreams isn't easy, but Poppy always has the encouragement of her family. When she finds that she loves ice skating, she pursues it with dedication and realizes she can succeed at anything as long as she believes in herself and has fun doing it.

Also this month, Yamaguchi attended an event at a local library in conjunction with iVillage and PBS. The library has a summer reading program to encourage families to keep reading in the summer.

"They offer coaching tips on how to get your kids to read," Yamaguchi says.

Always Dream is a relatively small organization, so they often seek out partners for various projects. Bring Me a Book was a great fit.

"We love what they do and how they reach out to the kids they serve," Yamaguchi says. "We feel that we can make a small impact with them. We're also supporting another organization called Raising a Reader.

"Kids and their education are so important," she adds. "They're going to be leading our country. We want to give everyone a chance to have the best future possible. That's why we focused on literacy."

In addition to the book and her foundation, this spring Yamaguchi also released a workout DVD: Kristi Yamaguchi: Power Workout.

"That's kind of what my exercise regime consists of these days," she says. "I'm not at the rink every day like I used to be. I try to find a way I can work out at home when the kids are there or right after I drop them off at school.

"I turn on exercise DVDs and exercise TV and do a 30- to 60-minute workout depending on the time and energy I have. This has given me the opportunity to customize it and incorporate some of my favorite things. It's for the busy mom or the working mom. It's a good workout that combines cardio and weights."

Yamaguchi is currently working on her second Poppy the Pig book, which she hopes will be published next spring.

You can follow all of Yamaguchi's activities at her website.