By JB Clark
TUPELO – Dancers from Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee interpreted the legacy of Elvis through dance in Saturday’s Dancing With the King competition.
The inaugural dance competition attracted more than 75 amateur and professional dancers from the region as well as about 200 spectators throughout the day.
Betty Franks, treasurer for the Tupelo Ballroom Dance Club and event organizer, said they received a lot of positive feedback on the event, which they hope to make an annual dance competition.
“Considered this is our first time, the response has been very good,” Franks said. “We have lots of sponsors and local donations.”
More than $14,000 in cash prizes were given out Saturday to top dancers.
“This is where Elvis was born and we have lots of events around him and things like singing competitions,” Franks said. “We thought it would be appropriate to do a dance contest. He had more than 700 songs. That’s plenty to choose from.”
Elizabeth Edwards traveled from Jackson, Tenn., to dance with her partner Phillip Farley, of Farley’s Ballroom in Tuscaloosa, in the pro-am competition.
The duo did Cha-Cha to a song from Elvis’ 1968 movie “Speedway.”
“Phillip’s jacket was a replica of the one Elvis wore,” she said. “The move had (Nancy Sinatra) so I was trying to replicate that. I was going for a 1968 hip-chick.”
The competition was a first for Stephanie West who started dancing two months ago in preparation for this year’s Dancing With the Stars.
“That’s how I got into this and since I was going to do that I thought I might as well start now,” West said.
She danced with Robbie Greenwood of The Dance Studio in Tupelo. She bought a leather Elvis costume, complete with studs and a cape, for the competition. “Robbie said no,” she said laughing. “So I made a bunch of phone calls and got these prison uniforms from TCT.” The two did an East Coast Swing to “Jailhouse Rock.”
The amateur and pro-am competitions gave way to a competition featuring six professional dance couples Saturday night as well as dancing to live music.