Southern student wins top honor at Joplin Dancing with the Stars


Grace Love, a senior general studies major at Missouri Southern and her partner, Travis Renfro, a certified personal trainer and wellness coach, perform a well executed ariel move for their first of two dances of the evening at Joplin Dancing with the Stars at the Downstream Casino, in Quapaw, Oklahoma on Friday, March 29.

After performing a waltz followed by a fast-paced hip-hop dance, Missouri Southern student and professional dancer Grace Love and her dance partner Travis Renfro were awarded the Joplin Dancing with the Stars (JDWTS) top honor, the judges’ choice trophy.

“I’m so excited, I can’t believe we won, we had such stiff competition,” said Love, senior general studies major and part-time dance instructor at Judy’s Ballroom Dance Lessons.

Love started her formal dance training at Southern in a ballroom dance class with Judy Schneider.

“Grace was so delightful, her technique is wonderful and she is just a delight to be around,” Schneider said.

Schneider is not just an instructor at Southern, she was one of the evening’s judges and is the owner of Judy’s Ballroom Dance Lessons.

Love and Renfro, a personal fitness trainer at Temple Training and wellness coach at GetFit 24 and self-proclaimed hip-hop expert, practiced their dance routines for about three months.

“We’ve been training, sometimes more than once a week, since late January, like 10 weeks,” said Love.

Renfro was equally excited as he jumped and danced around with his family and friends in attendance.

“We did it, I can’t believe it, we did it,” he said.

JDWTS was hosted by Stephanie McGrew and Cary Beasley of the Joplin Chamber of Commerce Cultural Affairs Committee on March 29 at Downstream Casino and Resort. This fundraising event was to raise money for the committee’s signature program, “Art in Public Places”, which will complete the installation of a three-dimensional outdoor mural located in the 800 block of Main Street in May.

Professional dancers were chosen and paired randomly by the committee with local “celebrities” and the pairs were given from December 2013 to March 2014 to practice for the fifth annual event.

“We just try to find someone who won’t turn us down, people who are very involved in the Chamber and support our project, Art in Public Places,” McGrew said.