The Conflict Solution Center of Santa Barbara is hosting its “Dancing Under the Stars” competition this weekend at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort to raise funds for a local youth crime prevention program.

The benefit begins at 6 p.m. Sunday and pairs local authorities — including Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Environmental Defense Center Executive Director David Landecker and several other authors, attorneys and coaches — with professional dance partners from Arthur Murray Dance Studios. All event proceeds will go to the CSC’s Restorative Justice Program, which works directly with juvenile offenders and victims.

According to CSC Executive Director Robert Burrs, the program emphasizes behavioral correction for troubled youths.

“The normal system of justice is very retributive,” Burrs said. “It’s a broad sword that hacks and cuts. Restorative Justice is more of a paring knife that carves through all the issues. The offenders still receive punishment, but they can talk about what they did, say they’re sorry and allow victims to have a say-so and closure. That’s the beauty of [the process]. It makes sense. Restorative Justice is more about healing the wounds, allowing for true accountability.”

The contestants spent up to five weeks honing their techniques.

Dudley said the training provides participants a break from their daily schedules.

“The moves aren’t that difficult, but learning the steps and their order, learning how to hold my body — that’s the hard part,” Dudley said. “I’m using a different part of my brain that I wouldn’t normally use in my work as a district attorney. I’m doing this is because all of the money is going to a cause I believe in. This is my way of donating my energy to help support the program.”

Arthur Murray Studios owner Karen Hermanson has hosted the dance-off for the past four years to support various nonprofit youth programs.

Hermanson said the public’s generosity during her early years as an artist inspired the fundraiser.

“When I was getting started as a dancer, there were wonderful people who helped me financially without asking for anything back,” Hermanson said. “One in particular, when I said I didn’t think I could pay back the gift, told me that someday I would be able to and when that day came I should do the same for another young person.”

Tickets are on sale at the door, online at or via phone through the CSC at (805) 963-6765 or Karen Hermanson at (805) 886-9937.