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Society / The Seen

Dancing With the Stars Takes on a New Twist in This Hot Houston Night

Local Celebs Show Off Some Serious Moves

BY // 05.30.19
photography Ricky Guinhawa

What: The Asian Pacific American Heritage Association‘s 27th anniversary gala

Where: The Royal Sonesta Hotel

PC  moment: The organization celebrated national Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with its own version of  Dancing With the Stars. That popular show’s most animated judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli would surely have applauded as a handful of APHA celebrities bested John Travolta and even Beyoncé with their gyrations before an enthusiastic crowd of 450. Judging the competitors on this night for their various ballroom skills were Jacquie Baly, president of the governmental affairs and media relations firm BalyProjects; competitive dancer Sonia Jupiter, owner of Sonia’s Dance World; and pageant interview coach JJ Smith.

Working with professional dancers for two months in advance of their colorful presentations were Victoria Ai Linh Bryant, president of the World Chamber of Commerce of Texas and founder/director of Ambassadors Caregivers; Victor Lee, principal for STOA Architects; Derick Mendoza, partner with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP; Danny Nguyen, the talent behind Danny Nguyen Couture, and Tina Zulu, who heads Zulu Creative and Kimono Zulu.

Applause, applause for Zulu, who with her dance partner professional ballroom dancer Alex Olivares, won the mirror ball trophy by racking up a perfect score for their performance of the hustle to Donna Summer’s disco hit “The Last Dance.” You can look for Zulu on the dance floor next year as the winner returns the following year to once again strut his/her stuff. Dermatologist Dr. Cindy Berthelot-Ly, 2018 winner, delivered a stellar encore performance of the cha cha with Olivares.

KPRC Channel 2 reporter Rose-Ann Aragon served as emcee of the evening that was chaired by Saki Indakwa and Neeta Sane.

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Two leading members of Houston’s Asia Pacific community were honored. Ching Hsian Wang received the Outstanding Community Service Award for the creation of free dance classes for senior citizens. Judge James C. Ho the first Asian American to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, received the President George H.W. Bush Award. The evening also saw 12 outstanding high school seniors receive $2,000 scholarships toward their college educations.

PC Seen: State Rep. Gene Wu, KTRK Channel 13 reporter Miya Shay, West University mayor Susan Sample, HISD board member Jolanda Jones, Sneha Merchant, Hector Villarreal, Martha Wong, Craig Bellamy, John Nguyen, Debbie McNulty, Gina Li, Andrew Karnavas, Toni Ingversen, and Grace Rodriguez.

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