'Dancing in Clover' draws local stars
For the fourth year, members of the Union County community will gather and cut a rug for the Union County 4-H.
This year’s Dancin’ in the Clover, which will be held Saturday, March 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Rolling Hills Country Club, will feature Todd Johnson, Rob Jackson, Nancy Stephen, Daune Gardner, Elona Edwards, Corey Cohen, Martha Allen and Phil Rains.
It will be judged by Sheriff Eddie Cathey, State Rep. Craig Horn, State Rep. Dean Arp and Bonita Simpson, owner of Bonita’s School of Dance.
People can vote online for their favorites. There will also be voting during the event. The dancers get points for every dollar they raise online, they also get points for every ticket they sell or if they find a sponsor. The judge’s scores will count for help until the end, when the top three dancers compete for the title.
This year, they are hoping to raise $15,000 for the organization.
Terri Beeson has been involved in the event since its inception. She helps the dancers, helps to find instructors and organizes.
So far, Beeson is impressed by the dancers.
“I think they’re doing great,” she said. “I’m working with two couples and then a single and all of my people are doing a great job...I think everybody’s ready, we just have to get past the nerves.”
Each couple has been assigned a ballroom dance. Beeson said they are working to keep it professional and the dances are not simple.
“This is completely new to most of the people,” Beeson said. “I think they’re gaining a lot more confidence and movement.”
The contestants have said that they are having fun dancing, but are also excited to raise money for the 4-H.
“We really appreciate all these people going out on a limb for us and taking so much time out of their busy schedules to be a part of it,” Beeson said.
She enjoys watching the couples grow as they learn the moves and practice.
“I think really the comfort level that they gain from being a part of it,” Beeson said. “It’s a huge deal and it’s a lot to get up there in front of your
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peers and to perform...I think it’s just a really neat thing that everyone comes together for such a great cause.”
Union County Commissioner Todd Johnson and his wife will be competing with the shag, a ballroom dance with southern that is part of the swing category.
“It’s been fun, but it’s been trying,” Johnson said. “There’s been a lot of successes and failures and ups and downs and it’s tested my wife’s ability to up with me, but it’s been fun...we’ve got to spend a lot of time together working on this, so it’s been great.”
Prior to this, Johnson said he did not have any dance experience.
“No ballroom dancing, but me and my wife have been (shag dancing) for a few years now, nothing professional at all, just for fun,” Johnson said.
As the contest approaches, Johnson has been up and down in the online votes.
“I’m excited,” Johnson said. “In the end...it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about raising money for the cause.”
Johnson said there has been some friendly banter between himself and the other contestants.
“I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can win,” Johnson said. “We’d like to win.”
“In the end, as long as money is raised...that’s all that matters,” he added.
Nancy Stephen will be dancing the cha-cha.
“I had no ballroom experience,” Stephen said. “None.”
She added that she danced with her husband, but it was a while ago.
“It’s been very interesting,” Stephen said. “It’s a whole lot more difficult than it looks...when you see people professionally dancing, it just looks so graceful and so connected and as an amateur in starting it, I felt like an elephant.
The cha-cha is a Latin dance with origins in Cuba.
“There is a lot of hip work in it,” Stephen said. “I had to loosen up.”
She is hoping to raise money for the 4-H Club, regardless of where she places in the competition.
“Personally, I want to not make a fool of myself in public,” Stephen said.
She also had some early trouble with the fringe on the dance costume getting caught everywhere. However, she went home and cut the fringe to a more manageable length.
Rob Jackson, community relations and communications liaison for Union County Public Schools, will be performing the foxtrot with his wife.
The foxtrot is a smooth dance with long steps. It originated in the early 1900s and is often performed to big band music.
When they started practicing, neither Jackson nor his wife had any dance experience, he said.
“I have really enjoyed it, surprisingly so, I guess because it certainly gave my wife and I an opportunity to do something together that we haven’t done,” Jackson said.
Jackson also praised Beeson, calling her “absolutely phenomenal.” Beeson has been working with the Jacksons to put together a routine and teach the dance.
“Probably the biggest difficulty has been the timing of the dance, the ‘slow-quick-quick’...in that you really have to work at it,” Jackson said. “Because I’ve never danced, ballroom danced or formally...when you start doing something like the fox trot there’s definite steps you have to take at a definite time.”
Jackson has also enjoyed the friendly competition between himself and the other competitors. He has also been at the top of the online votes.
“The fun thing about it is we’re having fun with the competition, knowing that any of the money raised...all goes to 4-H which is the incredible piece to it,” Jackson said.
He and his wife are hoping to do well Saturday evening.
“To tell you the truth, our goal is to do out best, but to make a respectable showing,” Jackson said. “We’re really looking forward to just having a lot of fun.”
Sheriff Eddie Cathey will serve as a judge for the event. He said he has not been involved prior, but has watched “Dancing with the Stars” on television.
“I am excited,” Cathey said. “It’s a good cause and I’m sure it will be a good adventure.”
Tickets and online voting are still available online at union4hfoundation.com.