Couples paired for annual Dancing With The Stars of Florence

BY MELISSA ROLLINS Morning This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Published in Morning News on January 8, 2016

FLORENCE, S.C. — The couples are set and the competition has begun. The Dancing with the Stars of Florence Pairing Party was held Thursday night at the Floyd Center at Carolinas Hospital System, giving the new group of celebrity dancers their first look at the competition ahead of them.

Mindy Taylor, School Foundation board member and a member of the planning committee for Dancing with the Stars, said the pairing party is usually the most stressful night for the new dancers because everything is new.  "They are meeting their partner for the first time. They are trying to strategize about selling ads and selling tables," Taylor said. "A lot of it is just the unknown. Once they get into practice, getting past that first practice, they settle into a groove and become really focused."

A new element for 2016 is the mentor: past dancers come back and help new dancers navigate all of the different parts of the competition.  Michele Pridgen danced last year, representing Honda. Now serving as a mentor, Pridgen said she was happy to pass along what she learned. She even came prepared with a binder with spreadsheets.  "Debbie (Hyler) sent me a text and asked if I would be interested in being a mentor this year and sharing some of my secrets for how I raised what I raised," Pridgen said. "My advice for her with the song was to look the list over and pick a song that represented her personality and his. Most importantly pick something they could have fun with. It brings you out of your shell; when I danced, there were some co-workers who had never seen my legs before because I don't ever wear a dress."

Pam Flowers, part of the crop of new dancers, said she was happy to be able to get advice from Pridgen, though actually learning her dance is still ahead of her.  "(At work) they sent an email out asking who wanted to do Dancing with the Stars," Flowers said. "I said 'Why, not' and my boss said 'Really?' Having to learn a choreographed dance makes me a little nervous but hopefully that will be OK. Just show me what I need to do and I'll do it."

In past competitions, all songs were picked by choreographer Burnadene Kelley-Newman. After giving dancers in another Dancing with the Stars event the choice to pick their own song, Kelley-Newman said, she decided to bring the change to Florence as well.  "There are some people that really don't know what they want and they need some ideas," Kelley-Newman said. "So, I put together a list of songs, some older songs and some current songs. Other people have a song in mind and so we gave them the option this year."

The Dancing with the Stars of Florence event takes place at SiMT on the campus of Florence-Darlington Technical College March 22, 2016. Visit for information and to cast your vote starting Feb. 1.

Couples for the 2016 Dancing with the Stars of Florence Competition:

• Dwayne Brockington and Brandi Williamson
• Adam Crosson and Tiffany Welsh
• Deb Davis and Chris Mixon
• Pam Flowers and Cole Davis
• Dr. Michael K. Foxworth II and Meggie Baker
• Dr. Bill Hazelwood and Drew Arnold
• George Jebaily and Amanda Smith
• Dr. Brian Naylor and Georgeanna Kelley
• Dr. Supen Patel and Shandi Cox
• Ray Taylor and Desiree Stokes
• Katie Wilcox and Joseph Steen
• Tara Newton and Antonio Robinson

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