Horry County Dancing With The Stars Keeps Couple In Training
It takes two to tango, but for this married couple, it takes each to make up half of two of the 13 dance pairs taking part in an annual charity gala.
Amanda Kinseth Rodgers – a “Good Morning Carolinas” live reporter on WPDE-TV 15 and co-host of its “Carolina & Company” noontime show with Cecil Chandler – and Robert Rodgers – a ballroom instructor for 15 years – have each been working with partners all fall long to train for the eighth annual “Horry County Dancing with the Stars.”
This benefit for the Horry County K-12 Foundation and Early College High School, based at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, will hit the floor at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach. The event also will air live in a telethon on WWMB-TV 21.
Amanda’s partnered with Daryl Brown from Horry County Schools, and her husband will step out with Karen Berry from Freedom Boat Club.
The Rodgerses, also the parents of sons ages 4 and 1, danced in unison and in their own direction when discussing the process in developing dance routines. The couple met when Amanda was a “Star” representing WPDE at a previous gala in this series, and Robert was the professional.
“We became friends, fell in love, and the rest is history,” Amanda said, glad they help every year as pros.
“Now with two little ones, though, it’s quite hard to practice,” she said. “We usually have at least one of the kids between our legs when we’re trying to dance. We just tell our partners that the child obstacles will make it easier to dance the night of the show, sans kids.”
Question | In how many editions of “Horry County Dancing with the Stars” has each of you taken part, and what keeps you returning to this floor year after year?
Amanda | We’ve been involved in “Dancing with the Horry County Stars” for seven years now. The love for dancing keeps us returning each year. And the motivation to support early college education. And Marsha Griffin… can’t tell her no. Plus, for the past several years, I’ve been the executive producer and co-host of the live telethon that we broadcast from the Marina Inn that evening. This year, the show airs live at 8 p.m. Nov. 21 on “The CW,” WWMB-TV 21.
Robert | It’s always a very exciting and busy time of the year. We love the cause, but on a more personal note, “Dancing with the Horry County Stars” is how we met, so it’s also a very special time for us.
Q. | When each of you meets your respective partner for the season, what’s the first common denominator from which you build to craft the chemistry that will develop all fall long and shine at the gala?
Amanda | The style of dance is largely based on their personality, and whether they have two left feet.
Robert | It has a lot to do with the person’s character, and whether they are fiery and energetic or subdued and sincere. It’s important to bring out their strongest features.
Q. | How challenging is choosing music and matching the attire for that right look and expression two people share as one unit when dancing?
Amanda | It can be tough to choose the right music. You need to find a song that both you and your partner like, and one that you can listen to more than 100 times without getting sick of it. Costumes are really the final piece that brings everything together. Charlotte Jones with Sew Biz does a great job with the costumes. Even though I wait until the very last minute every year, she comes up with something fantastic to make us shine.
Robert | Sometimes the song comes right away as soon as I meet my partner, or I might come in with an idea. I especially have to be careful to not be too choosy on the music, because time can go by quickly and I will have spent all my time trying to find the perfect song. The band is an important factor as well. The song needs to be suited for a live band and a live performance, so a lot of glossy studio-produced pop music just doesn’t work. As far as clothes, it’s easy being a guy: white or black shirt. I let the lady take the lead with her costume, and I highlight mine for her.
Q. | Do you as an instructor learn more about your student, or does the partner learn more about dancing in general?
Amanda | Hopefully both. My goal is for my partner to not just learn the choreography of our dance, but to learn how to dance and how to lead, along with the basic steps, so they can actually go out dancing when this is all over. To prepare for the event we have to put in a lot of hours of practice, so of course, we will learn about each other.
Robert | You wouldn’t be an effective instructor if your not learning about your partner.
Q. | Were either of you ever into figure skating, ballet or some other related kind of activity that only helps now with ballroom dancing?
Amanda | I think years of playing sports (soccer, volleyball, basketball and cheerleading), my lifelong involvement in dance (ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop), and a musical background (piano and flute) have all helped me develop coordination and the understanding of music. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m married to an amazing ballroom dance instructor.
Robert | Not really; I’m pretty clumsy outside of the ballroom. If there is an obstacle in my way, I will fall over it. When I was 7 years old, my mother tried to teach me to ice skate; I fell down and broke her wrist. I do, however, apply the lessons that I learned from ballroom dancing to other aspects of my life.
Q. | With ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” in its 21st season, in all those years, what has been your favorite routine by a pair and favorite pro to watch?
Amanda | I wish I had time to watch that show. Unfortunately with my crazy schedule, I don’t get much time to watch any TV, but I have seen a few episodes, and I really enjoy their energy and choreography. My mom, on the other hand, is an avid watcher, and her favorite is Derek Hough.
Robert | I watched “Dancing with the Stars” only early on, and it was a wonderful boom for the ballroom industry. Though, it came as a double edge sword because many people got the wrong impression of learning to dance. On the show, the stars learn a choreographed dance in a week and then perform it. Learning to dance is not about choreography; it’s like learning a new language. It takes time and practice, and it’s about so much more than that one choreographed dance.
Q. | Any favorite movies you’d recommend for dance lovers or people who want to see and get a feel for more of that athleticism and passion shared when holding hands with a partner?
Amanda | “Dirty Dancing!”
Robert | “Strictly Ballroom” is a classic that every ballroom lover should watch. The most notable are “Shall We Dance,” “Dance With Me,” “The Tango Lesson,” and of course, “Dirty Dancing.”
Q. (for Robert) | With all the dancing occupying your life, and taking part in such an art form with your wife, do you develop ideas for the file of your mind for a special dance down the road with Amanda at a special occasion, maybe a wedding renewal ceremony down the road?
A. | Amanda is my muse, and I daydream about us dancing together all the time. Yes, in fact we will be dancing together for the show this year as an opener, and I hope we will have many more opportunities to share the stage together.
Q. (for Amanda) | How special is being part of a team of WPDE colleagues cast every year in the Horry County Literacy Council’s murder mystery dinner fundraiser, with the 10th annual event – “Love Writes a Deadly Verse” – set for 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort Conference Center in Myrtle Beach (Tickets are $40 – 843-839-1695 or www.horrycountyliteracy.org)? Also, who goes most out of his or her everyday persona on that stage?
A. | That theater class in high school finally paid off. It’s a lot of fun to be in the murder mystery with my fellow newscasters. Tim Allen, Allyson Floyd and Joel Allen all do such a phenomenal job of getting into character, and it’s a great chance for viewers to see us outside our normal roles.
Horry County Dancing With The Stars Keeps Couple In Training