Getting their groove back

Dance partners return after seven-year hiatus to compete at Dancing with the West Texas Stars

Kara Williams and Kendall Gray both started dancing together in the fifth grade.

After graduating from Permian in 2016, they took a break but will soon return to the stage, performing at the Dancing with the West Texas Stars next week.

The event, which is a fundraiser for the Crisis Center of West Texas, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Ector Theatre.

Gray and Williams are longtime best friends. They’ve been dance partners since 2008 and are now living and working in the Permian Basin.

Williams currently received her CPA over the summer and Gray works as a Grow Our Action Coordinator at the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin.

Both are excited for the opportunity to get to show off their dance moves at next week’s competition.

“I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to dance again on a stage,” Williams said. “I’m very excited that it’s for a great cause such as the Crisis Center.”

Dancing with the West Texas Stars is an evening of performances by 10 local stars partnered with talented professional dancers from the community.

The fundraiser helps the center’s mission of ending domestic and sexual violence in West Texas.

Both dancers started dancing at Tammie Locklar’s Dance Studio in 2008.

They both attended Nimitz Junior High and went on to be varsity members of the Permian Panther Paws in high school.

After graduating from Permian, they went their separate ways.

Williams went to the University of Texas at Austin and Gray went to Texas Tech University.

However, they stayed in touch with each other throughout the years.

“We always keep each other in check,” Gray said while laughing. “But we spent so much time with each other in elementary, middle school and high school. Then we get to dance with each other and there’s a chemistry between us. Now that we’re grown up, we get to spend so much time together and getting to dance together again, we’ve spent more time together recently than in the last couple of years.”

This year is the eighth edition of Dancing with the West Texas Stars but it’ll be the first time Gray and Williams will be taking part in the competition.

It was around October when the two were asked if they wanted to take part in this year’s Dancing with the West Texas Stars. Their response was a no-brainer.

“It was a chance for us to get back on stage, dancing together and raise awareness,” Gray said. “We were like ‘Heck yeah! We got to do this!’ We’re excited because we get to dance together again.”

Both say they have a “yin and yang energy’” that they feed off each other.

“We have different strong suites and that’s what makes us better,” Williams said. “There’s always been a healthy competition. We’re constantly keeping each other on our toes at our highest level. It’s all love but we also have that competition aspect.”

However, after going seven years without dancing, both Williams and Gray talked about how rusty they were.

Both returned to taking adult dance classes at Tammie Locklar’s Dance Studio.

“Our first dance class that we came back to here, we were doing the things that we thought were the simplest things and I couldn’t do them,” Gray said. “I was so sore the next day. But after a couple of months of doing this again, we’ve already improved and found our groove again.”

They’ve been practicing about twice a week since October to get ready.

“Dancing is like riding a bicycle,” Williams said. “The fundamentals are still in our bodies. It just hasn’t been exercised for awhile. But the chemistry is still there.”

Gray said they’ve had to remind themselves that they’re not in the same shape they once were.

“We can’t do some of the hard things but we’re challenging ourselves to make it a fun dance that’s appealing to the crowd because we want to win,” Gray said. “That’s been the most challenging. But we’re getting there and we’re surprising ourselves.”

Their dance routine will take the audience members back in time to the 1970s with some of the greatest hits from that decade including plenty of funk rock.

“It’s a 70s mix,” Williams said. “It’s kind of a love letter to the 70s, if you would say so. It includes the greatest hits from that decade. We’re bringing back the classic 70s dance moves. The dance is so much fun. The moves we’re doing, everyone will recognize them. It’s a very crowd-pleasing dance.”

While they enjoy dancing together, there is some extra pressure with this competition being their first since 2016.

“We started prepping earlier than other people because we felt that there was this added pressure that we both danced in high school and neither of us are true professionals,” Gray said. “We’re both working women and we don’t dance like we had in the past. So we had to get out there and got to make ourselves look good because the last time everyone saw us dancing, we were good. … People are also paying good money to see us dance.”

But they both can’t wait to showcase their talents for a good cause.

“We’re really excited to be a part of this event,” Gray said. “We can’t wait to get on stage but it’s for a bigger cause. Luckily, we haven’t been in a situation where we’ve had to use the Crisis Center’s resources but so many people do and that’s why we’re doing this. We’re doing this to help raise funds for them so that the Crisis Center can continue to do what they do.”

For tickets and more information about Dancing with the West Texas Stars, go to

If you go

  • What: Dancing with the West Texas Stars.
  • Where: Ector Theatre.
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4.
  • Where to purchase tickets: