|Matt Dorame "So You Think You Can Dance" graphic courtesy of FOX-TV
Years before Matt Dorame became familiar to millions through his success as a finalist on Fox-TV's "So You Think You Can Dance," he was looking for a church.
And thanks to the UCC's Stillspeaking TV commercials, Dorame first learned about the extravagant welcome of First Congregational UCC in Phoenix.
Dorame, 22, who has been dancing since he was 7 years old, studied with the Arizona Ballet Theater while attending the Arizona School for the Performing Arts at Arizona State University. It was there that he first discovered the UCC.
"Having attended the Arizona School for the Performing Arts, Matt was familiar with the little church on the corner," said his mother, Colleen. "While watching a commercial on TV one night, Matt saw an advertisement for the UCC church. He realized the two were one and the same. He first began attending in 2006 and has been there ever since."
"He had attended various churches searching for a place where he could feel comfortable and welcomed," she said.
Now, Dorame's family — mother, father and brother — also attend the Phoenix church, where his mother has assumed leadership for the congregation's Christian Nurturing and Education Ministry Team.
Dorame has participated in several intensive dance programs, including courses with the American Ballet Theater in New York. During the past two years, he has been performing with the Odyssey Dance Theater in Salt Lake City.
First Congregational UCC has been excited by Dorame's success, says Jeffrey Dirrim, the church's minister to the young adult community.
"So You Think You Can Dance" airs on Wednesday nights on Fox TV, where each contestant performs and viewers are given the opportunity to vote for their favorite dancer. On Thursdays, the results are announced and the most popular performers advance to the next week's competition. Dorame was among the final 14 contestants.
"Matt's parents have been flying back and forth from Phoenix to Los Angeles each week to support Matt at each taping,"Dirrim said. "Colleen was recently surprised to be called on during our Sunday morning worship announcements to give the congregation an update on how Matt was doing. When Colleen announced he was a finalist on the show, there were immediate cheers and applause throughout the congregation."