Family, friends and fellow dancers packed the restaurant California Dreamin’ off Chastain Road Wednesday to watch Zack Everhart compete on the television dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance?”
Everhart advanced to the top 14 contestants after surviving elimination alongside his partner, 18-year-old Jacque LeWarne of Clive, Iowa.
The show allows viewers to cast votes for their favorite dancers after every live episode, with a panel of judges eliminating one male and female competitor from the bottom three pairs each week.
Mike and Tammy Everhart, both of Kennesaw, run a studio off Wade Green Road called Great Gig Dance Co., where their son Zack has taught dance classes for three years.
Mike Everhart said the 150 supporters who turned up at the restaurant to cheer on his son were part of an impromptu gathering.
“This was not a planned event,” he said. “Everybody said, ‘Can we come to your house and watch?’ And we said, ‘Well, that’s going to cost a lot of pizza!’”
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, Councilman Tim Killingsworth and John Loud, owner of Marietta-based Loud Security Systems, were among the crowd of fans at Wednesday’s celebration.
Zack graduated from Kell High School in 2012 and returned to Kennesaw after a brief stint at a Pittsburgh college, Mike Everhart said.
He has been dancing for over 10 years.
Zack’s specialty is tap dance, his father said, adding his son is “pretty well-rounded” and performs well in all styles.
A January tap audition at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta landed Zack on the show for the second time, Mike Everhart said.
Zack had been eliminated from an earlier round of the show when he tried out when he was 18.
Mike Everhart said his heart was pounding after watching his son perform on Wednesday evening’s show.
Because he and his partner were among the three couples who received the fewest votes, he faced the possibility of getting cut from the show.
“I think he looked amazing,” Mike Everhart said.
Tammy Everhart said she was feeling a mix of emotions before her son came onscreen.
“I’m very excited for him and for the opportunities he’s getting right now, and I’m also nervous for him,” she said.
Karen Everhart, Zack’s grandmother, donned one of the many T-shirts bearing her grandson’s picture that Tammy Everhart had handed out to dancers from the studio.
She said watching Zack on the show made her both proud and anxious.
“It’s very nerve-wracking,” Karen Everhart said. “It’s also a huge measure of pride, in my grandson.”
Kendra Cosner of Woodstock said her son dances with Zack at his family’s studio.
She said Zack’s success on the show “means a lot to the community.”
“He’s worked so hard to get where he is,” she said. “We’re so proud of him.”
Mary Beth Stinson, a fellow teacher at the Everhart’s studio, said she grew up performing duets and group dances with Zack and called him one of her best friends.
Her mother, Denise, said her family and Zack’s had become close over the years.
“I think we all know he deserves it because he got cut,” Mary Beth Stinson said, referring to Zack’s less successful run on the show two years ago. “We’re glad he has this outlet to show how good he really is.”