STARRY NIGHT: Local celebs shine on the dance floor

Published 9:04 pm Monday, February 10, 2020

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Kelly Sanders and Ryan Miller danced with the stars Saturday night and the dancing duo shone the brightest. Sanders, the celebrity, and Miller, the professional, won Dancing with the Stars Troy Edition and each gave credit to the other; Sanders for Miller’s amazing choreography and Miller for her dance presentation.

“I had an amazing choreographer and an amazing dance partner,” Sanders said.  “I was so excited to have the opportunity to dance in this very special event.”

The Judges’ Award went to celebrity Jonah McWaters and professional Erin Smith who received a standing ovation for their dance to “Ridin’” and “The Git Up.”

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On Monday, McWaters was still riding high from the experience.

“It was amazing, just a lot of fun,” he said. “Everyone back stage was talking about how much fun the whole thing was, the practicing and the performance. It was great.”

But McWaters said the nerves still kicked in.

“Was I nervous? Absolutely,” he said, laughing. “I was nervous all day. I didn’t eat anything but a pack of crackers. Waiting back stage, I was really nervous. I’m not a dancer but still it was a lot of fun. And, I’d say to anyone that has a chance to be in Dancing with the Stars, ‘Just do it!’”

Tonya Terry and Ryan Wagstaff chose Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” as one of their dance tunes. And, the audience went “crazy” over their dance and rewarded them with the People’s Choice Award.

“That was the fan’s favorite award and I really campaigned for it before the competition –on TV and on line,” Terry said and added laughing that “of course” she wanted the mirror ball trophy.

Terry’s partner was Ryan Wagstaff and backstage, he said when they were on stage, he wanted her to see people smiling and clapping and having a good time.

“People were clapping and smiling and I had such a good time. But I was a little nervous with Chancellor Hawkins and the First Lady on the front row. I’ve emceed a lot of events at the university and done other things but that was the first time they had seen me in fish net,” Terry said, laughing. “I can’t thank the professional dancers enough for working with us and Kelly for putting together the chemistry that made this happen. I only see it getting bigger and better.”

Kelly Sanders organized “Dancing with the Stars Troy Edition” as a fundraiser for the Patti Rutland Jazz Arts in Education Outreach Program, BEYONDance which is in its third year at Troy Elementary.

“All students in grades one through six are involved weekly,” Sanders said. “Our hope is that BEYONDance will continue to grow and branch out to other schools in the county.”

And, if Troy’s edition of Dancing with the Stars is any indication of local interest in dance, then the stars are the limit.

Sanders didn’t say that Dancing with the Stars Troy Edition will be back next year, but she left the door open wide.

“What a great night of dance and community,” Sanders said. “I was impressed with the dancers, both the professional and celebrity dancers. The professional dancers choreographed the dances and it was amazing how the dances matched the personalities of their partners.”

Sanders said, for her, and she believes for all the celebrity dancers, “Dancing” was worth every minute of the practice time and even the stage-fright jitters.

“The audience was with the dancers from the very beginning and their support helped us relax and enjoy the dance,” Sanders said. “I think Troy’s edition of Dancing with the Stars was better than many people thought it would be. Not knowing what to expect, the audience was very appreciative of the willingness of members of the local community to participate and just as appreciative of all the dancers. They were all amazing. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the show. It was professional and a just a lot of fun. We thank everyone who worked so hard to make the Troy edition of Dancing with the Stars a success and to all who came out in support of the dancers and the BEYONDance program.”