By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Elvis’ music was made for dancing.
The Tupelo Ballroom Dance Club is celebrating his hip-swinging sounds next weekend with the first-ever Dancing With the King.
The festival not only includes a variety of workshops but competitions for youth, amateur and professional dancers to dance to Elvis’ music.
“I learned to dance to Elvis music. We learned to bop,” said festival organizer Rubye Del Harden. “If you can’t dance to Elvis, who can you dance to?”
There will be workshops for all styles of dance, including Hustle, Foxtrot, West Coast Swing, Waltz and Country Two-Step.
April 26 will be a day full of competitions and dance parties.
Memphis-based rock band The Bankers will perform for a rock ‘n’ roll dance party that evening, and there’ll be a late-night West Coast Swing after-party at the Dance Studio.
Harden encourages dancers of all levels of experience, including newcomers, to come out for the competitions and workshops.
“We love newcomers. I encourage them to come and watch because they may get the (dancing) bug,” she said.
Youth and amateur competitors will win scholarships to continue their lessons, while the professionals will win cash prizes. Tupelo rarely sees the level of talent the professionals will demonstrate, Harden said, unless it’s on a TV show like “Dancing With the Stars.”
“The competition will be fabulous,” said Betty Franks, a Dancing With the King organizer.
There will be awards for judges’ choice and people’s choice, and folks like Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson and the Mayor’s Youth Council will give awards for their favorites, too.
Greg Pirkle, who won the first Dance Like the Stars competition in Tupelo, will emcee. There will be a dance vendor there who will sell dance shoes of all types. A shuttle will take visitors back and forth between the competition and the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
Harden hopes the event will spark an interest in Elvis’ music for a younger generation.
“These kids weren’t around for him, so who’s Elvis to them? We want his legacy to continue,” she said.
Festival organizer Charlise Latour said that idea is at the heart of the Dancing With the King event.
“He recorded 738 songs,” she said. “That’s 738 opportunities to dance.”
CHECK IT OUT
• What: Dancing With the King, includes dance competition, workshops, more
• When: April 25-27
• Where: Tupelo Middle School
• Cost: $50/premium seating, $25/general admission, $10/14 and younger. Tickets available at the Dance Studio, Sprint Print, Keep it Casual, Busylad or by calling (662) 213-0504.
• Info: (662) 213-0504, dancingwiththeking.com