Daily Times reports: MC community raises funds through 'Dancing' competition

By Melanie Tucker, Life Editor for the Daily Times
melt@thedailytimes.com
Published Nov. 8, 2011

Maryville College’s version of “Dancing With the Stars” took to the dance floor last week courtesy of some fancy footwork by students and staff who threw this dance party in hopes of benefiting area charities.

“Dancing With the Staff 2011” was held Wednesday evening at Isaac’s Cafe in Bartlett Hall. Eleven dance teams volunteered to foxtrot, cha-cha, waltz and hip-hop in front of a crowd of 200 as judges scored their performances. Each team featured a Maryville College student and a member of the faculty or staff at MC. Vandy Kemp, dean of students, served as emcee.

This community project, now in its second year, was the brainchild of MC resident assistant Justin Kirkland, who said this was something he had always wanted to participate in. The best way to make it happen was to create the event himself.

Kirkland went across the campus to recruit some volunteers. Most were good-natured and willing to do this for a great cause. There was one staff member, however, who told Kirkland, “I will donate to any cause as long as you don’t make me dance.” She was good on her word.

Couples were randomly paired and could choose their own dance and music or leave it up to Kirkland. He said he was totally amazed at the talent on display.

“The dancing this year was fantastic,” he said. “It was over the top.”

Some of the contestants took it seriously, putting in several hours of rehearsal time. Others more or less winged it.

There were two teams that won when the evening concluded. Judges gave the highest score to Roger Myers and Chelsey Cole. They took home a trophy fashioned after Barbie. This couple danced to “Waking Up in Vegas” by Katy Perry.

The other winners were the ones who collected the most money for their charity. That turned out to be Emily Julian and Preston Fields. All of the money collected that evening — a little over $800 — will now go to the Peace Corps efforts in Zambia. Kirkland said an MC graduate, RaeKenya Walker, is currently over there and will be able to help direct the funds.

“It’s pretty cool that she gets to see the benefits of this,” Kirkland said.

When Kirkand moves on from MC, he said he hopes “Dancing With the Staff” will continue on. It has been so much fun, he said. And this year’s fundraising doubled over last year.

The experience might even be the springboard to getting on “Dancing With the Stars.” How cool would that be?

Too cool, Kirkland said.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.