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Dancing with the Pueblo Starz will feature talented campus duo

Tracy Samora and Paul Browning
Tracy Samora and Paul Browning

CSU-Pueblo will be well represented in the community Saturday, Sept. 6 when Director of Alumni Relations, Tracy Samora and Thunderwolf wide receiver, Paul Browning showcase their talents at the 2014 Dancing with the Pueblo Starz competition.

The annual event, which includes dinner and a silent auction, will take place at the Pueblo Convention Center and is a fundraiser hosted by the Pueblo Downtown Association. Ticket sales will benefit the downtown streetscape program and Pueblo’s Young Marines.

The university has been a presence in the competition for several years. Todd Kelly, president of the CSU-Pueblo Foundation, took first place two years ago, and last year, Director of External Affairs, Cora Zaletel danced in the competition with her son.

Samora, who has been dancing in Pueblo since she was two, helped choreograph Zaletel’s routine and was then asked to represent CSU-Pueblo in this year’s event. She accepted, and when choosing a partner, immediately thought of Browning.

“Paul is competitive and in it to win,” she said. “When I asked him to dance with me, he said ‘absolutely!’”

Browning was ecstatic when Samora asked him to be her partner for the competition.

“I love dancing, so I had to jump at the opportunity,” said Browning. “Tracy is easy to work with because she wants to win, like I want to win. We both knew how much work would have to go into this, which is why we collaborated on the choreography for the dance.”

Many of the competitors work with outside dance studios, but because of Samora’s previous dance experience, she and Browning chose to work out their own routine, and by the second week of rehearsals, they had the choreography down.

Samora and Browning have been rehearsing during their off time, which has been limited with the start of school and the opening of football season. Browning, who is an award-winning wide receiver for the CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves, had to balance his football practices and school work with his dance rehearsals.

“The closer we got to football season, the stress levels went up, but as our rehearsals progressed, we’d laugh and relax,” said Samora. “Dancing eases the tension of the day. Throughout this process, we’ve taught each other so much.”

“There is a direct correlation between sports and dancing, especially with the footwork. I’ve been dancing probably longer than I’ve been playing football so I think I’m pretty good,” Browning added. “After football is done, look for me on (the original) Dancing with the Stars.”

The music and type of dance for the couple’s routine has been a well-kept secret, but Samora explained that it will be very similar to the routines on the original show.

“We have three minutes to dance, and there will be a panel of judges,” she said. “It will be more contemporary like freestyles on Dancing with the Stars.”

Competing with Samora and Browning onstage this year will be Colorado State Senator George Rivera, Nicole Valdez from the Chieftain, Bureau Chief Charlene Graham of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and many other local celebrities.

Samora and Browning said they aren’t worried. They are confident they will come out on top.

“We have great chemistry,” said Samora. “And we are both in it to win.”