Kathy Fortner

September 2020

Kathy Fortner

—Kathy L. Fortner, a member of the Ballroom Dance Preservation Society for the past three years, is a Ballroom, Latin, and Rhythm Student, Competitor, and Performance dancer starting the 8th year, being taught by Professional Dance Instructor Ralph Hunn, of Affordable Dancing.

Kathy and Ralph have competed at various Ballroom dance competitions in the Southeast (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) and in Washington, DC (at the Reagan Center), one of the most memorable events. They have won several first place and overall awards at various levels of Bronze, Full Bronze, Open Bronze, and Newcomer/Beginning Silver in the Pro/Am categories.

They also have performed a few times, in the Myrtle Beach area for BDPS, USA Dance, and the most memorable event, to date, was at the Long Bay Symphony, dancing Rumba/Bolero fusion, to a Gershwin themed selection with about 1400 in attendance.

—Competition opportunities provided Kathy a method to establish dancing goals, focus on the study of Ballroom dance, learn steps in the levels of various syllabi, becoming aware of both the leader and followers roles, and being judged by other recognized national and international professionals as a way to determine, with her instructor, competency of what has been taught and learned, and then be aware of areas needed for improvement.

In dance competitions, Pro/Am (student with instructor) the student is judged, not the instructor, so there is, of course fun, yet some stress and true desire to do well. Most importantly, dancing brings happiness, joy, excitement to life, in addition to the work in her profession. Competitions have made it possible for her to meet some wonderful fellow dancers and competitors who have become friends.

—During her years as a young person studying dance studying classical piano and voice, as a Grad Student with a mentor, and now with ballroom dance, her approach, which has worked well for her, has reinforced her belief, education, and experience to be taught by the same instructor/same supervisor/same mentor throughout one’s education having continued teaching, consistent learning, and guidance from an opportunity to provide supplemental education that may be necessary for solid skill development. She used this same approach as a supervisor with her Counseling Grad Students as it encouraged growth so they thrived.

—Kathy, a native of West Virginia, moved to South Carolina after the loss of her husband of 31 years. They are the parents of two children, with three grandchildren. Activities enjoyed by Kathy and her family were downhill skiing (she was a Black Diamond Skier), fishing, boating, running, mountain biking, and travel. She, and her late husband, during their marriage, (and she after his passing) had serious medical issues, (Kathy is a two time cancer survivor), which taught her to enjoy life, appreciate time with friends and family, take nothing for granted, celebrate everything, and find life balance. Music was an outlet for both in their life together with dancing and exercise as an outlet for her.

—Kathy has been involved in dancing since the age of 4 when she began taking ballet. Dance continued throughout her early teens with the study of Ballet, Tap and Jazz. until Music and dance have always been an important part of her life, as she returned to study Ballroom Dance in 2013, after a brief absence, to begin again studying with her current instructor, Ralph. At the encouragement of her dear friend, Starr, and her older cousin, former dance competitor and performer, she decided to try again.

—In her parent’s home, dancing and music was an important part of life, as she  learned to dance Foxtrot, as a small child, standing on her father’s shoes, and learned Swing/Jitterbug from her father who learned the dances while being stationed in Europe during WWII. Her parents were excellent dancers, loved music, thus encouraged Kathy’s interest in the arts.

—Kathy’s dance study has been continuous, weekly, learning continuously to improve, being taught the various components of dance, and preparing preparation for the “next competition”. Goals set by the instructor, with his student, determine what may be needed to achieve the next level and to gain new or improve skills. Kathy has assisted Ralph with Ballroom Dance Groups he has taught locally for about 11/2 years to learn more about the various dances, technique, and approaches to student learning.

—Kathy as a Board Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, has worked in her private practice in WV and currently has a practice in Myrtle Beach, SC, taught Counseling as an Adjunct Professor in the Counseling Department at Marshall University Graduate School, worked as a Special Project Director with a three state initiative in Substance Abuse Demand Reduction, employed as a counselor in the public school, and worked in Primary Care as a Counselor/Social Worker, Management Consultant, and Manager. Kathy is crisis responder for SC and our coastal area with various crisis response initiatives.

Kathy volunteered with the Horry County Fire and Rescue as a Critical Incident Stress Management Responder for several years and is trained as Family Court Mediator with the SC Bar. Volunteer experience includes, while in WV, being a Girl Scout Leader, Boy Scout supporter, Faith Group Leader, involved with the County Medical Auxiliary for the State Medical Association as Secretary and Treasurer, and served on Boards in WV as Editor/Web Designer for the WV Licensed Professional Counselors Association, and Board member with the WV Board on Mental Health.

In SC, she has served as a Volunteer with positions as Secretary to the American Mental Health Counselors Association State Chapter and other local organizations. In her youth, she was in Girl Scouts, (First Class Scout), active in her faith community, and other organizations.

—Kathy is currently involved in advanced Post Graduate work in the study of Dance and Movement Therapy with emphasis in Ballroom, Rhythm, and Latin dance with hopes to complete the research and study in the next couple of years.

—Kathy believes one can have creative expression in Ballroom Dancing, through music, partnership, development of respect the process of the arts, and study, one can continue to develop and grow personally in many ways.

After Covid

—Hopes are high, in the very near future, to resume dance practice with Ralph, after COVID-19 issues clear, returning to compete in competitions, perform in our area and at dance competitions, and attend some social dancing event to review practiced dances.

Ballroom, Latin, and Rhythm dance has provided for Kathy a positive, creative outlet aside from work, learning and experiencing so much she says was never dreamed possible. Her hopes are to continue being taught by Ralph for many years to come, continuing skill development, and most of all, having fun!