Competitors prepare for annual Joplin dancing contest


Photo provided by Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Land
Sports Editor

Joplin area community members are gearing up for the sixth annual Dancing with the Joplin stars competition, benefiting the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Cultural Affairs Committee’s “Art in Public Places” project.

The show will be held on March 29 from 6:30-10 p.m. at the Downstream Casino and Resort in Joplin. Tickets are $50 per person and a plated dinner is included.

Dancers in this year’s competition are Brian Atnip of Keller Williams Realty, with professional partner Heather Lemon; Alicia Edens of Great Southern Bank, with professional partner Michael Bowen; Stephanie Norwood of Realty Executives, with professional partner Ben Whaley; Mike Olmstead of FOX-14, with professional partner Kaye Lewis; Travis Renfro of Walk Talk Nutrition, and professional partner Grace Love; and Jessica Schaer of KSNF-TV, with professional partner Dale Clark.

Gary Bandy and Melanie Huonker, hosts of KSNF-TV’s Living Well show, will be the emcees for the evening.

At intermission, Philip Mitchell of KSNF-TV and a competitor from last year’s competition, as well as Amanda Mitchell of Freeman Health Systems and the winner of last year’s competition, will perform a dance together.

During the event, each couple will participate in two dances: the waltz, and a dance genre of their choice. At the end of each performance, the judges will give a technical score and the couple with the most technical score points will win first place in the competition.

A couple will also be eligible to win the people’s choice award. With this award, anyone is encouraged to go to and cast their vote for their favorite couple that is participating in the show. Each vote for a couple is two dollars and the couple with the most votes will win the award.

For Schaer, who anchors the 6 and 10 o’clock news on the Joplin NBC affiliate KSN, participating in the competition is a way for her to get out into the community to meet new people and be a part of various activities.

“I’m still so new to Joplin,” admitted Schaer. “I’ve been here for a year and a half, but in the realm of life, a year and a half is such a short amount of time. I wanted to get out into the community and I’ve met people through the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce and of course my dance partner.”

Being a nighttime news anchor, Schaer and her dance partner have had a difficult time scheduling practice sessions to prepare for the big dance.

“It’s kind of difficult since your kind of doing it on your own time and schedule,” Schaer stated. “For me, my partner and I have completely opposite schedules, so that’s been the difficult task so far is finding time to train and we’ve just been at it and just trying to do as much as we can, just a little bit at a time.”

Schaer hopes that her waltz with her partner will be something that nobody has ever seen in the history of the competition.

“You’re still going to get that ballroom feel, especially for the first dance, but they’re not going to be the typical dances,” stated Schaer. “They’re very different and that was just on purpose, just to make us stand out. It could go either way with the judges. They could really like it being differently, or they could really not like it.”

The whole goal of their dances is to bring a new atmosphere to the competition.

According to Schaer, “We’re both in our 20’s, so we kind of wanted to fuse the ballroom and fuse the styles that we were used to, together. We’re hoping that when people walk away from our performance, they go ‘oh they did a really good job and that was so different than what I seen in past years’.”

For those who cannot make it to the competition, a live stream of the event will be availiable on DVD copies of the competition will also be available for purchase at Missouri Southern State University’s television station, KGCS.