#3: Kris Berrong & Angela Puleo
Kris is a returning dancer from 2016. He and his partner won the People’s Choice Award and First Runner up in the Judge’s Award in 2016. Kris wanted to return because he had such a good time in 2016, but this year he is dancing as a celebrity and learning a dance that is totally new to him.
Kris Berrong was born and raised in Hiawassee GA and is the owner/operator of Berrong’s Barber Shop. He and his wife Chelsea have one daughter, who is slightly over a year old. Kris enjoys being a dad as well as fishing, playing basketball, racquetball and pickleball. He currently serves on the Hiawassee City Council. Kris has been clogging since the age of three and still occasionally performs around the Hiawassee area.
Angela Puleo is the Director of Blairsville Dance Project and has 37 years of dance experience in ballet, tap, jazz, clogging, hip-hop, modern and International and American style Latin. She is an American Clogging Hall of Fame inductee, and over the years, has competed nationally in multiple dance styles both as a soloist, and as part of an ensemble. She has also performed at Dollywood, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Six Flags, World of Coke, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, and on Premier Cruise line. Angela is also a certified competition judge and workshop instructor. In addition, she owns Compass Sterling, a sales and marketing consulting firm, focused on the tech industry.
#4: Rebecca Midori & Brett Taylor
Becca Medori is a wife to Mike, dog mom to Daisy and Marvin, and singer. She and her husband own Hearing Solutions of North Georgia located in Blairsville and Ellijay. Becca’s favorite thing to do is lead worship at Vertical Church, and to write worship songs. She also enjoys traveling, kayaking, and spoiling her nieces and nephew. Becca is passionate about CASA and has completed the CASA training. Although she has no dance history, she is thrilled to dance for this special cause.
Brett Taylor has been dancing for 34 years and has been teaching for 20 years. During that time she has also performed in numerous dinner theater productions at Elaine’s Dinner Theater in Cape May N.J. As well as being a performer and lead dancer at Elaine’s, she was also the choreographer for the theater for a number of years. Brett has also worked on Premier Cruise Lines as a lead dancer, actor, singer as well as the choreographer.
After working professionally for a number of years, she wanted to be a dance teacher and a role model like all of the teachers that she had when she was younger. Brett was ready for the next step in her career. She opened a dance studio in New Jersey, Rising Stars Performing Arts Company. She loved being the owner and director of her studio, and teaching tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, ballet and pointe. After 3 years at her studio and the birth of her daughter, Brett and her husband Tom decided to move to North Carolina and now she teaches ballet, tap and jazz at Blairsville Dance Project
#5: Clay Logan & Lynn Hayes
Clay was born and raised here in Clay County. He is married to Judy Hicks Logan, and they have three sons, and eight grandchildren (7 boys and 1 girl).
Clay has remained here in the county, except during his service in the U.S. Army (1965/66). Clay is presently serving as the Chairman of the Clay County Commission, and represents the county in a number of connecting leadership committees. Clay and Judy own and operate “Clay’s Corner”…. a small country store and gas station that has become a nationally known landmark because it is the home of the annual POSSUM DROP on New Year’s Eve. He loves to interact with people of the county, and to help discover solutions to their problems and concerns.
Lynn is one of our returning dancers from 2016. She was born in Atlanta, but grew up in New Orleans. She always loved the music and dancing so prevalent in the city. After attending college, she received an MAT from Emory University and taught history and English for five and a half years.
After raising two children, she returned to the school setting and registrar at Marietta Middle School until she retired in 2014. Dancing was a big part of her life and she participated in the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and later took ballroom dance lessons for a few years. She’s looking forward to participating in Dancing with North Georgia Stars again in 2017.
#6: Patti Kenney & Amy Williams-Green
Pattie Kenney Dr. Patricia Kenney graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1982. She served as an officer in the Army as a helicopter pilot on active duty until Nov 1989. She was in the Reserves until 2002 and returns annually for summer camp. In 1993, Dr. Kenney graduated from the Veterinary School of Medicine at Auburn University and opened the Union County Pet Hospital in 1994 and continues to operate to this day. She enjoys working with dogs, cats, horses, and exotics. Dr. Kenney enjoys showing her Newfoundland dogs in Conformation classes, Water Rescue, Drafting, and Obedience/Rally. She is the Past President of the Southeastern Newfoundland Club and a board member of the SENC Rescue Inc. She is a Health Committee Board member for the Newfoundland Club of America (NCA). Furthermore, she is a founding board member of the Mountain Emergency Animal Center and has served as President of the board. Dr. Kenney is a strong advocate of continuing education for veterinary medicine. She puts great importance on improving her own education and will put aside time to teach and share with others this passion for knowledge. Dr. Kenney also enjoys and Newfoundland activities, as well as motorcycle riding, hiking, skiing, reading and horseback-riding. Last October, Pattie married her love, James (Jim) Kenney in France. They split their weekends between Blairsville and Charlotte, NC. Amy Williams Belly Dancing instructor at Blairsville School of Dance
Amy Williams-Green is from Philadelphia and Orlando and the mother of 5 amazing people. She and her children decided to make North Georgia their home in 2012. Amy spent many years studying and performing belly dance. Since moving to the mountains Amy has continued to study various forms of belly dance as well as having the opportunity to become a belly dance instructor at Blairsville Dance project and Towns County
Recreational Department. Amy has performed with a troupe in Murphy, N.C. and has had the pleasure of dancing for the Art Council and members of the Folk School in North Carolina. Amy hopes to continue to build a community of belly dancers and enthusiasts here in North Georgia.
#7: Solomon Patrick & Nichole Patrick
Nichole Patrick is a lifetime resident of the north Georgia mountains. She and her husband have two teenage daughters and consider themselves “practicing empty-nesters”. They were foster parents for 5 years when their girls were younger. Nichole recently began her dream job as a home-based travel agent with JR Travel Advisors, LLC, after 14 years of being a stay-at-home mom. Some of her greatest accomplishments are 8 years of homeschooling and mission work in Ukraine.
Nichole enjoyed dance and baton as a child which fostered a love of music and movement. Last year, her husband gifted her with 6 months of Ballroom dancing lessons.. She looks forward to putting it to good use for the benefit of Enotah CASA
Solomon grew up in Brasstown, NC and moved across the line to Blairsville at 19 years old. He is a custom home builder and the sole owner of Patrick Construction, Inc. He has been married for nearly 20 years to his wife, Nichole, and has 2 teenage daughters. Solomon enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, kayaking, and any activity that allows him to enjoy nature. He is the licensed contract for the local Habitat for Humanity and has spent many years helping build churches with Builders for Christ.
#9: Wes Cook & Martina Gibboney
Wes Cook is 28 and originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but came to Blairsville via Clermont, Florida. He is married to his beautiful wife Sara, and they have four children! He is the Sales and Brand Growth Director at Chick Fil-A, and he and his family have lived in Blairsville for a little over a year. They love Blairsville, the schools, the scenery and especially the people! His hobbies include reading, spending time outdoors, and spending time with his family. They have a special place in our heart for foster children. His in laws are foster parents, and have adopted four children! Wes is thrilled to be a part of this amazing event.
Martina Gibboney is a freelance writer, nationally published in multiple, influential sewing magazines. She loves to design, sew, create, dance, and was the 2016 DWNGS Mirror Ball winner. She was a majorette for 5 years in school. In her late 20’s she took up dancing, jazz, tap and ballet, and became a dancer for Atlanta Dance Unlimited for 5 years. Her favorite dance role was playing Little Bo Peep, in the production of Babes in Toyland. In the mid 90’s she took up Interior Decorating and was named one of the top 3 Romantic Designers in Atlanta Magazine.
She now lives in Suches with her husband, dog and four cats, (amorously referred to as Elly May by her husband) where she enjoys the beautiful scenery while sewing, designing, and keeping in shape by going to Jazzercise classes. She is a member of the American Sewing Guild, the Gaddistown Homemakers and believes in giving back to the community.
#10: Heath Ledford & Nikya Murphy
Heath has played the piano since he was six years old which probably ignited his love of dance.
He currently manages Brothers at Willow Ranch in Young Harris and managed another popular local restaurant for 9 years in Towns County.
Heath enjoys being involved with local fundraisers and being able to give back to the community.
He was taught to dance by Dana Merritt at Fieldstone resort, in both Swing and Cha Cha. They practiced most weekends while others danced around them in the Firelight Lounge.
Nikya Murphy was born and raised in Blairsville Ga and is a 2002 graduate of Union County High School. She is the mom of a wonderful 5 year old little boy that is her everything. She works for a private correctional company, Correctional Resource Group, based out of McDonough, Ga. The company works in local jails all over GA managing kitchens and providing meals. She is currently supporting the Towns County jail. She is also a hair stylist in her spare time.
Nikya enjoys spending time with her son and going on adventures with him. She loves to dance and likes to learn new techniques and dance whenever given the opportunity. Nikya loves the little communities in the area and is very proud to be from the Northeast Georgia Mountains.
Loretta Pistole Durden was born in Alliance Ohio before moving to Miami at the age of 15 and attended Miami High School. Strong in her Christian faith, Loretta raised four boys then moved to Melbourne, FL in 1975. After falling in love with Blairsville, she purchased the Hole in the Wall in 2006 with her son Mark Cox.
There isn’t much Loretta hasn’t experienced in her almost 79 years of life. She became a pilot and traveled extensively, she’s served on many Boards and committees for her communities, she loves the Farmers Market and Cannery, and she’s an avid shooter. In fact, she is a Range Safety Officer for the NRA and a basic pistol instructor. Loretta began senior ballroom dancing socially in 2000. She loves both the exercise and grace that comes with dancing. Her goal in life has been to inspire and make difference as she travels on her journey through life.
Matthew is a member of the Georgia Round dancers Teachers of America and taught at his first National Convention in 2007. He and his partner, Ramona Stowe have also participated at the Tennessee State Convention and at the Alabama State Convention. Matthew has been a “cuer” for over ten years and enjoys introducing Round Dancing to new dancers.
Matthew has participated in the Habersham Dancing with North Georgia Stars on two occasions.
#1: Darren Harper & Laurel Adams
Darren is originally from Blairsville, and was raised south of Atlanta. He spent every summer & holiday in Blairsville with family. He graduated from YHC in 88 then on to GA State University in Atlanta. Darren spent 20 years in the financial services industry and eventually opened his own business near Little 5 points. He moved back to Blairsville about 8 years ago, and is sure it’s the best decision he ever made.
Darren has served as Blairsville’s Downtown Development Program Manager for over 4 years.
Currently, he serves on the board of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, and the “We are still here Memorial Project” and is a habitual volunteer.
Darren has been a semi-professional wedding photographer for 6 years with Studio 83 wedding photography based out of Athens. He is a total dog nut and has four dogs: Peanut the Schnoodle, Butters the Jack, Hannah the min-pin & Bella the Maltese. He agreed to dance because A) I have no shame and B) most importantly, it’s for a great cause.
Laurel Adams, Resident Artistic Director at the Peacock in Hayesville, started dancing when she was 7 years old and has been in love with it ever since. She started in theatre as a dancer and progressed to actress and director. She was a Dance Director for Arthur Murray Studios several lifetimes ago and continues to teach Ballroom at the Peacock.