BY SHEENA BARNETT
TUPELO – There’s more to dancing than just moving your feet.
Tammy Wilson, Matt Embler and Robbie Greenwood teach dance lessons each week at The Dance Studio in Tupelo, and on top of their regular schedules, they’re also preparing a group of local celebrities to strut their stuff for a good cause.
Next week is Dance Like the Stars, which benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi. This year’s celebrities are Amanda Hayden, Emily Leonard, Judy Hill, Barbara Clements, K.C. Grist, George Stone, Ashley Buse, Anne Haire and Peggi Phillips from Tupelo; Matt Koon of New Albany; Laquita Wilkerson of Ripley and Ruby Lee Lancaster of Houston.
Whereas most of the students at the Dance Studio are just learning how to dance, the stars are learning a routine – and those are two very different things.
“With students, we start off with basic dances in a very systematic approach to learning,” Wilson said. “With stars, they don’t need to learn how to do the rumba, but how to do a rumba routine. We’ll sit down with each contestant and get ideas of their styles and song choices, that way we get a variety of different dances. We spend the first couple of weeks moving in that style.”
This year’s Dance Like the Stars will feature the celebrities dancing in styles like cha cha, salsa, samba and foxtrot.
Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs also dance at the event, so the instructors teach them their moves, too.
All of this work is done on top of the instructors’ regular duties: Embler is called the studio’s “jack of all trades.” He does everything from repairs to party planning. Wilson is also the studio manager who returns phone calls and emails.
They each train, choreograph numbers and prepare lessons for their students in addition to teaching.
For Dance Like the Stars, Wilson also picks out and orders costumes, shoes and other accessories the stars may need.
The celebrities dancing at this year’s show aren’t known for their dancing skills, but Wilson said she often sees a lot of talent in those who think they have two left feet.
“They usually do the best, because (dancing) is structured,” she said. “It’s, your foot goes here, and they respond to that.”
All of the instructors concur – this year’s group of celebrities are talented and committed.
“We have a very good group,” Wilson said. “They’ve all come in with good attitudes, and they’re happy with what they’re doing. They’re all very competitive about the fundraising, which is why we’re here.” Greenwood agreed.
“They’ve worked really hard, and I’ve definitely challenged them,” he said. “Everybody’s put 100 percent into it.”
Check It Out
WHAT: Dance Like the Stars, a benefit for Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24
COST: $50/dinner tickets, $20/general admission
INFO: bgcnms.org, (662) 841-6504