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Pastor, dance partner relying on faith, prayer for competition

on Tuesday, 21 March 2017. Posted in Good life, News, Arts & Culture, Local News

Pastor, dance partner relying on faith, prayer for competition

By BRENDA HARRISON Editor of The News Journal Florence, S.C.

It’s seems only natural that the Rev. Will Malambri and his dance partner Katelyn Rodgers selected the song “Faith” by George Michael to perform to at the upcoming Dancing For Our Future Stars on March 30. They are rehearsing a samba dance routine.

A true amateur, Malambri said his dance training consists of Cotillion classes in junior high school where he learned to shag well enough to teach basic classes.

“I’m good for dancing to about five songs at a party, so I enjoy the little bit I dance, but I don’t look for opportunities to dance. I am enjoying this, however, because it’s such a new adventure for me that whenever we are rehearsing I can’t think of anything else. I don’t have space in my mind to think about stressors or frustrations or sadness, he continued. “It’s a nice escape each week.”

Will’s dance partner is Katelyn Rodgers, an instructor at KFA. She is a junior at Hannah-Pamplico High School and lives in the Friendfield community.

“Katelyn is amazing,” he said. “She is a dedicated student, a great dancer, and a very patient teacher.

“My admiration of dancers has grown tremendously through this. I’m astounded at all the routines and steps they keep in their minds simultaneously. It’s incredible what they push their bodies to do.

“Katelyn can go from rehearsing a competition routine with the dancers at Kelly’s Fine Arts to rehearsing ours without even thinking. I have to cram beforehand just to keep one 90-second routine in my mind, and I still miss steps sometimes.

“She’s used to teaching young, inexperienced dancers, so she’s the right match for me! She’s great,” he added.

Malambri said his and Katelyn’s families have been very supportive of their efforts.

“Katelyn’s mother has been to several practices, and my 9 year-old daughter, Annagray, has been to all but one, I think. She enjoys watching us and the other dancers and helps by recording our dances and keeping the music playing,” he said.

“One of the best parts of this has been sharing the drives to and from practices, the practices, and the practicing at home with Annagray – who is my dance partner at home when I practice.”

Malambri is the senior pastor at Central United Methodist Church. He says this experience has been much more fun than he anticipated.

“I am enjoying it very much,” he said, adding there are challenges.

First is finding the time to rehearse. Katelyn is very busy with her other dancing and her schoolwork, Will noted, and he has a full schedule with ministry and family. 

The second challenge is memorizing the routine, he said, adding it’s far more than just learning dance steps.

However, the good reverend said it is all worth his efforts.

“Having a wife who is a teacher in FSD1 (Briggs), two elementary-aged children in the district, and mentoring a student, I see what great work the teachers and staff do with the resources they have. I know some of the teachers and hear their creative ideas and how passionate they are about finding new ways to help their students have better learning experiences.

“The students deserve the best education we can give them and the teachers deserve the best support and resources. Thanks to The School Foundation there are more opportunities for creative learning in our district, which means we’re continually improving the community and workforce,” he commented.

Asked about one of his competitors, the Rev. Chris Handley of First Presbyterian Church, Will said he is not worried.

“Chris Handley has been carrying a cane around town trying to get sympathy votes. That’s his strategy. Others are practicing all the time – their strategy. My strategy is to have faith and rely on Katelyn’s tremendous talent,” he commented.

“Prayers are welcome, as are votes – the brilliance of this fundraiser is that even those who can’t attend the performance can support The School Foundation and their favorite pastor by donating online (it’s spelled “Malambri!”

This School Foundation fund raiser, Dancing For Our Future Stars will be held on March 30 at the SiMT.

Fans may vote online for their favorite dance couples at for only $10 per vote.

This year’s 12 celebrity dancers and professionals are:

• David Copeland (Savannah Grove Elementary) and Cheyanne Beck

• Barnett Greenberg (Greenberg Real Estate, LLC) and Meghan Burgess • Carl Humphries (HopeHealth, Inc.) and Meggie Baker

• Andrew Imbeau (ProMotion Rehab and Sports Medicine) and Hannah Yarborough

• Ashleigh McIntyre (Raines Hospitality Inc.) and Cole Davis

• Chad Patterson (Raldex Hospitality) and Morgan Schoolfield

• Dr. Christy Prose (Carolinas Hospital System) and Chris Mixon

• J. Lawrence “Chipper” Smith II (Smith Funeral Home of Florence, LLC) and Georgeanna Kelley

• Rebecca E. Smith (Assurant Specialty Property) and Tyler Jordan

• Yancey Stokes (Honda of SC Manufacturing) and Erin Haynes

• The Rev. Chris Handley (First Presbyterian Church) and Brandi Williamson

• The Rev. Will Malambri (Central United Methodist Church) and Katelyn Rodgers

The “People’s Choice” mirror ball trophies will be awarded to the three couples receiving the most votes. The judges will name one couple “Technical Skills Winner” based on the contestants’ overall skills. A couple will also be chosen as “Most Entertaining” by the judges. Dancers receiving the largest number of online votes will be awarded the “Social Stars” trophy.

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