Locals gear up for Dancing with the Stars
by Robert Joseph Baker | August 4, 2017 3:51 pm
Last Updated: August 4, 2017 at 6:54 pm
Corey Blackmon said he’s “never danced in (his) life.”
So, Saturday, he’s definitely doing a first: Partnering with Hanna Yarborough in Dancing with the Clarendon County Stars.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bean Market in Lake City.
“We’ve been practicing about two times a week,” said Blackmon, who said his professional partner, Yarborough, asked him to keep their dance and song secret until show time.
“We’ve just been busy practicing,” said Blackmon, who works for Sumter Utilities teaching an apprenticeship program where he shows students how to build and repair power lines.
He said he didn’t think long and hard about participating.
“A friend asked me, and if it’s for a good cause, I’m in,” he said.
Blackmon is one of 14 local “celebrities” to participate in the fundraiser, which has provided more than $300,000 since 2010 to everything from Clarendon County Habitat for Humanity to the Turbeville Children’s Home.
Devyn Youngblood Gibbons is another local celebrity who is performing. Her husband, Nelson Gibbons, competed in 2016. She will perform to James Brown’s “Get Up off of That Thing” by professional Kaleb Allen, a previous winner in the People’s Choice category.
Unlike Blackmon, Gibbons has some dance experience.
“I started when I was 3; I took tap, jazz and ballet until the seventh grade and then stopped because I started cheerleading,” she said. “We also did choreographed dances in cheerleading.”
Gibbons said having that experience helped her with “eight counts.”
“That’s a big part of dance,” she said. “I also remembered certain dance steps from when I took dance years ago. That helped us with choreographing our dance for Dancing with the Stars.”
Still, some aspects have proved challenging.
“This is so different from what I did as a kid, because it’s a whole new aspect when you dance with a partner,” she said. “You have to be in sync with each other and be aware of what your partner is doing. That definitely makes it difference.”
Gibbons said she and Allen began practicing once a week in June. Starting in July, the pair started to practice at least twice per week.
“The week before, we will practice every day,” she said.
Gibbons said she’s appreciated Allen’s willingness to drive from the beach area to Turbeville to practice.
“I have been very busy with setting up my new classroom (at Walker Gamble Elementary School in New Zion), so that has helped me out a lot,” she said.
Gibbons and Blackmon face tough competition in Judge James Dingle, a former educator-turned-municipal-judge.
Dingle said he had danced for fun with his wife.
“But that’s about it,” he said. “I never thought I’d be doing something like this.”
Dingle is no stranger to fundraising activities, although in his capacity as a judge he may not raise money directly for himself as part of Dancing with the Clarendon County Stars.
Earlier this year, Dingle performed as “Judge Jingle” in the Clarendon Cover Girls, a womanless beauty pageant benefitting Clarendon Habitat for Humanity. Dingle is the president of the organization.
“This will probably be my last big fundraiser, but you never know,” he said. “I like helping out in the community.”
Dingle said his arm was twisted by Leigh Ann Maynard, who has competed in Dancing with the Clarendon County Stars twice. She won the People’s Choice portion with Allen in 2011.
Dingle is partnering with Linsy Wells, and the pair have practiced at Donna Prothro’s The Dancer’s Workshop.
“He’s just been so great,” Wells said. “I’m so honored to be partnering with him.”
Saturday’s event features heavy hors d’oeuvres and a bar service. Tickets are $100 per person and may be purchased at the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce.
During Saturday’s event, attendees may vote for their favorite dancer for $10 per vote. Until Saturday’s competition begins, folks may also vote online by visiting www.clarendoncountydancingwiththestars.com.