LUMBERTON — Sharon Kissick is ready to dance like a star.
Kissick, a registrar at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, has been preparing to shake a leg by sitting on her couch.
“I’ve watched ‘Dirty Dancing’ a lot,” said Kissisk, who will join Adam Ward on the dance floor at United Way’s third annual Dancing with the Robeson County Stars charity competition in March. Ward, a project manager at Southern Heating and Air Conditioning, plans to channel Michael Jackson.
They are one of the 16 dancing duos that were matched up from a draw of the hat Sunday at United Way’s Pairing of the Dancers. The 32 brave souls have each pledged to raise at least $5,000 for the organization as they perfect original dance routines over the next four months.
The couples will pick a song and one of eight choreographers to work with until their first performance on March 28. They’ll dance again on March 29, when the couple who raised the most money will be awarded the coveted mirror ball trophy. Winners in the categories of best dance and best costume will also be named. Both shows will take place at the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center.
Information about each pair will be on the United Way website in the coming weeks. Supporters can then vote for their favorite duo online with a donation of $10 or at the United Way office, located at 2512-A Fayetteville Road.
“It’s divine intervention,” said Sandra Oliver, United Way’s executive director, explaining how the event brings together people of all ages, backgrounds and occupations.
As dancer Kim Pevia, of the Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce, put it, “it’s about to get a lot more intimate” for these partners: Erika McComb and Brian Jacobs; Sallie McLean and Gary Strickland; Dolores Jones and Scott Matthews; Erica Meekins and Evan Davenport; Cammie Hunt and Stephen McIntyre; Connie Canery and Zavery McDougald; Linda Branch and Allan Campbell; Magdalena Flores and Joe Roberts; Linda Metzger and Eric Sanders; Pevia and Raymond Cummings; Kissick and Ward; Brittany Hunt and Will Williams; Ann Christopher Britt and Dwayne Smith; Christy Thorndyke and Rod Jenkins; Joanna Hunt and Regg McIntyre; and Jessica Johnson and Curtis Jones.
Although some of the dancers had never met their partners, by the end of the evening, they were already picking songs and boasting about their moves on stage.
“I’m going to go all the way,” said Canery, center manager at Head Start in St. Pauls and life-long dancer. Canery’s partner, McDougald, is a former jazz dance instructor and was already working on choreographing their routine just minutes after the big reveal.
While he said he hasn’t danced much since his “wild days,” Strickland, who’s on the Public Schools of Robeson County’s Board of Education, thinks he and his partner have the “best dance” category in the bag.
“We’re going to out-dance everybody,” said McLean, who is mayor of Maxton.
But for all of this year’s couples, having some fun on the dance floor is just an added bonus to supporting a meaningful cause. All of the proceeds will go to education initiatives in the county and to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which provides free books for children.
“It really hits home for me,” said Jenkins, whose son participates in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library’s program. “This is the least I can do.”
Jenkins is deputy health director for Cumberland County and previously served on the United Way board.
His partner, Thorndyke, said the cause is close to her heart since she has three kids. “I wish we could get started right away,” she said.
Lisa S. Thoman, one of the choreographers, is equally excited to start practicing.
“Every year brings a different flavor,” she said.
According to Thoman, all the songs will have a common thread, although she couldn’t reveal this year’s theme.
“The first third [of the show] will be how to get the girl, the middle will be how to have fun with the girl and the end will be how to keep the girl,” she said.
Tickets for the March 28 show will be available at the United Way office for $30 after Nov. 18. That night’s event will be first-come, first-served. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the show will be begin at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for the March 29 show will be sold by the table. Doors will open at 5 p.m., dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m
Tables closest to the stage will be on sale for $3,000 from Nov. 18 to Nov. 22. The next group of tables can be booked for $2,000 each from Dec. 2 to Dec. 6. Any remaining tables will be available for $1,000 starting Dec. 9. Each of the 55 tables seats eight people.