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Mara Walker and her partner Travis Stancil practice their contemporary dance for this year’s Dancing with the Burke Stars competition.

In lieu of the Dancing with The Burke Stars competition on Jan 25 - 26 , the couples have been putting their best foot forward and practicing their dance routines to work toward winning the mirror ball trophy.

The competition is slated for Jan. 25 - 26 at 7 p.m. at the City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium.

As stated in a previous News Herald article, there have been eight community members selected to participate in the competition. Each contestant has been partnered with a professional dancer to take their shot at winning. The competition will be donating 100 percent of its ticket sales to Burke United Christian Ministries, which is a local soup kitchen and nonprofit agency in Burke that helps the homeless population and families in need.

» Jon Zimmerman, who is a teacher at Patton High School, will be dancing the Broadway style with Olivia Hughes.

» Aleshia Mathews, who is the owner of Manazh é Fashion, will be dancing the upbeat swing style dance with Travis Stancil.

» Terry Rodgers, who was the Freedom High School basketball coach for 25 years, will be dancing the shag, the cha cha cha, the salsa, and freestyle with Sarah Brown.

» Mara Walker, who is the chorus director at Freedom High School, will be dancing a contemporary dance piece with Travis Stancil.

» Wes Hawn, who is an attorney and social media marketing and content creator, will be dancing the swing with Miriam Marie.

» Kendall Jillings, owner of Tumblemania, will be dancing the quick step with C.J. Stancil.

» Laura McGlamery, English teacher at Freedom High School, will be dancing the Cha-Cha/Tango Medley with C.J. Stancil.

» Jose Gutièrrez, owner of Las Salsas in Morganton, will be dancing the salsa with Sarah Brown.

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Jose Gutièrrez (standing), owner of Las Salsas in Morganton, performs a dance move with his professional dance partner Sarah Brown.

Each couple will be dancing to a specific dance and have each faced different challenges up to this point.

One may ask why would these community members want to dance in a competition in front of hundreds, if not thousands, with hardly any previous dancing experience.

Here are their answers.

Q: Why did you decide to be a part of Dancing with The Burke Stars?

» Terry Rogers – “To give back to my community, to serve such a worthy organization, to increase the awareness of the needs of the less fortunate, to help provide better services and , hopefully , to see the smiles of happiness from my family my friends and all the people who attend,”

» Laura McGlamery – “When I was approached by Travis and Sarah to be a dancer in the upcoming show, my first answer was that they were crazy, and there was ‘no way I was getting on stage and dancing in front of everyone,’” she said. “But after contemplating the brief five minutes that I had to give them an answer, I decided that year 2019 was about facing your fears. That sometimes you have to get outside your comfort zone in order to learn more about yourself ... thus far, I have learned that I, as CJ Stancil likes to put it, have "blossomed.”

» Mara Walker – “ I had the pleasure to meet Travis when my high school choir performed as a guest choir on last year’s show,” Walker said.“This year, he contacted me with a creative proposal, in which my choir would perform a song that I would dance to. In addition to this unique opportunity to perform in a new style, I also was happy to participate in an event that supports funding for Burke United Christian Ministries.”


» Aleshia Mathews – “I’ve had a small part to do with the show backstage each year, making costumes or getting dancers dressed for their performances. So I decided to show that my feet have just as much talent as my hands.”

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Terry Rogers (left) and his partner Sarah Brown, smile and pose for the camera during one of their practice sessions.

» Kendall Jillings – “The big deciding factor for my participation in Dancing with the Burke Stars this year was its partnership with Burke United Christian Ministries,” Jillings said.“It is an invaluable asset to our community that assist all types of people within our community. I am excited to be part of the fundraising efforts to help and organization that I know of first hand the many ways it directly gives back to our community.”

» John Zimmerman – “Despite having a life motto that avows ' I don’t dance, ' ” I decided to participate with Dancing with the Burke Stars because the cause is important to me,” he said. “As the coordinator for our Soup Kitchen team at First Baptist Church, I know first hand how vital the work that BUCM does. In my work as a nonprofit executive at Casting for Hope, I am always encouraging the best anglers in the country to use their passions, their time, their skills, and their social capital to serve others. Dancing is neither a passion or a skill of mine, but I am happy to give my time and social capital to serve and assist BUCM.”

» Jose Gutièrrez – “One night after we were closed, Sarah (his now professional dance partner) came through the back door of LasSalsas and asked me if I would be a part of the show. I said yes!”

» Wes Hawn – “Because it is for a wonderful cause and allows me to step out of my comfort zone,” Hawn said.

Q: So far, what has been the most challenging when it comes to learning a new style of dancing?

» Terry Rogers – “The difficult forms of learning, beat counts, new turns, a regimented routine and perfection instead of free styling.”

» Laura McGlamery – “To ask what the most challenging thing has been with learning a new style of dance seems like a loaded question , especially for someone who has always felt that they have two left feet,” she said. “I am sure if we asked CJ this question about me, he would have said letting him lead me. I am pretty sure in every practice we have had, CJ has said “Now Laura, you have to let me lead you at some point!” I don't relinquish control very often. But so far , any challenges that I have faced, I have had the best teacher out there help me overcome them all.”

» Mara Walker – “Coming from a background of cheer and sports-style dance, I’ve had the most difficulty in working to be fluid and graceful in the movements of our dance,” Walker said.“Working on lifts and partner movements has also been a new experience for me, but it has been fun practicing with and learning from my talented partner, Travis.”

» Aleshia Mathews – “The most challenging part has been finding time in our busy schedules to practice.”

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John Zimmerman (right) and his partner Olivia Hughes practice a Broadway style of dance.

» Kendall Jillings – “Learning to dance period,” Jillings said.“I have never been a dancer so this is all new to me. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn something new and I have a great teacher so that has made it a wonderful experience.”

» John Zimmerman – “It’s been a challenge to learn a style of dancing,” he said. “I’ve been avoiding dancing for basically my whole life, so learning any style of dancing has been a challenge.”

» Jose Gutièrrez – “Learning all of the tricks and keeping in rhythm with the music,” he said.

» Wes Hawn – “Keeping up with an extremely talented partner and coach,” Hawn said.

Tickets are on sale now for the event at www.dwtbs.com.

For more information about Dancing with the Burke Stars, visit “Dancing with the Burke Stars” on Facebook or www.dwtbs.com. Those interested can now cast their vote on the website and make a donation to BUCM.

Staff Writer Jonelle Bobak can be reached at jbobak@morganton.com or 828-432-8907.

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