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August 8, 2008

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler
903.565.5769

UT Tyler Director to Dance with 'Tyler Stars'

Clark, Lane

For nearly two months this summer, Chip Clark, director of facilities, planning, construction and operations at The University of Texas at Tyler, will have traded in his physical plant gear for dancing shoes.

He will add a game face and ballroom attire come Sept. 20.


That’s because Clark will represent the university as a volunteer instructor in the third annual “Dancing with the Tyler Stars,” a charitable fundraiser based on the popular hit ABC Network TV show “Dancing with the Stars” for the non-profit organization Tyler AIDS Services. The black tie event will include dinner, several showcase dances and a dance for all attendees.


Clark said he looks forward to the challenge, which pits six couples against each other in two three-minute ballroom dances – the Waltz and East Coast Swing. His dancing partner will be broadcast journalist Courtney Lane from KLTV Channel 7.


“I like a good challenge, and I like competition,” said Clark, who has worked at UT Tyler for almost 10 years and is the proud father of two daughters who graduated from the university’s nursing program. “I really like being able to represent the university and being able to help promote the university as well as Tyler AIDS Services for the work they do.  It is an honor.”


But he’s no stranger to the event – or ballroom dancing itself. He and his wife Zayjean co-founded the fundraiser, and Clark has had five years of ballroom dance instruction, learning from national champion, Sal Landeros, and Charlie Peterson in Tyler.                              


In Dallas, he took lessons from instructors, swing dance champion Elaine Hewitt and Lori Hayner, who both served as judges for the first “Dancing with the Tyler Stars” in September 2006 as well as Gary Long, who trained under Landeros.


“I became interested in ballroom dance after meeting my wife,” Clark said. “She’s an amateur dancer, and it was one of those things where I either picked up the hobby or just sat there and watched,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a fun hobby, and it’s good exercise of course.”

Lane and Clark practice
Even with five years of experience under his belt, Clark said he doesn’t feel like he has an advantage over the ‘stars’ in this year’s event, which will take place the UT Tyler Ornelas Activity Center’s ballroom.


“I don’t feel like I have an edge because of my dancing background,” Clark said. “I’ve never competed on the dance floor before, but that’s the fun thing about it. And I hope everyone has a good time.


“This year we’re doing something a little bit different,” he added. “I’m one of five amateur volunteer instructors, which we did not have in the previous two years, and all six couples will work with Sal as the professional choreographer. I’m going from a recreational dancer to instructor – we’re doing a lot of advanced stuff. It’s going to stretch me, but it’s going to stretch all of us.”


According to Clark, UT Tyler has established a collaborative relationship with Tyler AIDS Services, as the organization regularly participates in various events and educational seminars led by the university’s Office of Student Services.


For additional information, including tickets, visit http://www.tyleraidsvc.org/default.aspx.


One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. Nearly 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.
 

 
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