When the contestants take the stage to strut their stuff during the annual “Dancing with the Joplin Stars” event on Saturday, Feb. 28, a team of Missouri Southern students will be behind the camera.

The 12 students will provide coverage of the annual fundraiser for the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Cultural Affairs Committee’s “Art in Public Places” project. Set-up for filming began Friday afternoon at Downstream Casino and Resort in advance of an evening dress rehearsal.

“We’ve been doing this since they started (‘Dancing with the Joplin Stars’),” said Bill Hunt, creative services director for KGCS. “The students get hands-on, on-location experience, from setting up to running cameras and directing.”

Hunt said the collaboration between Missouri Southern and the chamber grew out of a conversation he had with Stephanie McGrew, member events producer for the JACC.

“The first year we did it, the students were scared to death,” he said. “It’s a ton of work, but it’s fun. The students learn there’s a whole lot more to (filming a live show) than just running a camera.”

Other staff and faculty members such as Kris Livingston, Tom Hewett and Don Ross also assist with the production, helping to make the experience a productive one for the students.

Zachary Calvin, a freshman mass communication major, said he was looking forward to the experience of serving as the production’s technical director.

“I’ll get to know more of the people working on the crew and do some networking,” he said.

Makenzie Copeland, also a freshman mass communications major, said the live shoot will give her a different perspective on production than she’s had so far.

“I’ll be running one of the three stationary cameras, so I’ll be in one spot for the whole time,” she said. “It will be different than running back and forth down the basketball court or football field.”

KGCS will air “Dancing with the Joplin Stars” at 8 p.m. Monday, March 2, and Wednesday, March 4, and at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 8. DVDs of the performance will also be available to purchase.