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The trio of Jessica Stamper, Josh Smith and Ashley Smith is ready for Stanly County’s Dancing With the Stars.

Dance trio ready to take the stage for the Butterfly House

By Marina Shankle, for the SNAP

This year’s Stanly County Dancing with the Stars event is going to be a little different.

Funds raised are still going to benefit the Butterfly House, the local children’s advocacy center.

Local dancers and volunteers are still going to entertain their audience with a variety of dance styles.

Josh Smith lifts Jessica Stamper up as they practice a routine with partner Ashley Smith, not shown, for Stanly County’s Dancing With The Stars.

However, this year, the event will feature dance trios and groups instead of pairs.

The dance trio of Josh Smith, Jessica Stamper and Ashley Smith is ready to bring a little dance experience and a lot of excitement to the stage.

The three dancers were basically strangers when they met as part of the Dancing with the Stars event.

Josh Smith is a history teacher at Stanly Early College High School.

Stamper is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

Ashley Smith is in feed sales, with an agriculture background.

While all three come from different careers and backgrounds, each of them has some experience in dance.

“I’ve done that all my life,” Stamper said. “I took dance classes when I was younger and competed in college. I also taught dance for several years.”

Ashley Smith also took dance classes and has danced in the event before, while Josh Smith has danced in the event three times.

“Five years ago, I was invited to do it, and it just developed into something I enjoyed,” Josh Smith said, likening the thrill of the experience to the excitement of participating in football in high school.

Ashley Smith became aware of the event through her work at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.

“I saw it take place each year and said to myself, ‘That seems like something that would be fun to do,’ ” she said.

Stamper witnessed several shows as an audience member before getting involved.

“When you’re used to being on stage and then you see others performing, it gives you the itch to do it again,” she said.

With backgrounds in dance and choreography, the trio was able to plan and choreograph their routine early.

“Our dance is already finished,” Stamper said. “We are taking the extra time we have to fine tune it.”

Their practices have been overall consistent and fun, the team said, but not without a few missteps.

“We could make some money selling our bloopers,” Josh Smith said.

Dancing as a trio comes with its own unique set of challenges, the trio said.

“It can be hard in a trio to make things flow,” Stamper said. “Poor Josh has to do everything with us.

“Playing around to see which tricks work and which tricks fail has been pretty fun.”

The three dancers are excited about the performance itself, they said, and are curious to see what the other teams are doing.

“It’s exciting to see what other people have come up with, to see all the creativity and different styles in the other performances,” Ashley Smith said.

For all three of the dancers, all three of whom are parents, the cause of the Butterfly House is a major motivator.

“Being a dad, you don’t ever want to see kids in a position where they have to fend for themselves,” Josh Smith said. “They need advocates.”

The team has already started raising funds for the Butterfly House, through a boot camp-style fitness event called the Mile Mayhem and through a talent show and other fundraisers at the Early College.

The annual Stanly County Dancing with the Stars event will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.

Tickets are $30 for mezzanine seating and $20 for balcony seating and can be purchased through the Stanly Health Foundation at 980-323-4103 or at Starnes Jewelers, 127 Main St., Albemarle.

For more information about the event, visit stanlydancingstars.com.