With three sold out shows and a net of close to $100,000 raised, the 2015 Dancing for the Arts fundraiser, held Nov. 20-21 at the Maryland Golf and Country Clubs in Bel Air, took huge steps (with a few spins and lifts!) in the progress to build a Center for the Arts in Harford County. The always-entertaining event has become one of the most popular affairs in the county, and this year’s organizers added a third show to the schedule to accommodate the increased demand for tickets.
Highlights of the weekend included the announcement of plans to break ground on a 500-seat performance amphitheater on the site in 2016, the Jeffrey J. Plum Legacy in the Arts award presented to local artist Jim Butcher, and a lively auction of donated items – including a plein air painting of the dancers in action created by artist Moon Joo Lee during the event. Other entertainment included national recording artist Elio Scaccio of “The Sicilian Tenors” and performances by the Maryland School of Ballet and Modern Dance under the direction of Laura Ward-Moran.
Of course, the main attraction was the signature amateur ballroom competition. The 2015 “celebrity” dancers, many of whom did not have prior dance experience, worked for months with professionals Tom Rzepnicki and Natasha Pollack of the Dancing with Friends dance studio, and learned unique routines incorporating classics such as the cha-cha, mambo, tango, waltz, swing and foxtrot. Judges evaluated each dancer or couple for their technical execution of the steps as well as for their showmanship and costumes. Judges’ scores and audience votes from each show were tallied to name the Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice award winners.
Landri Taylor Hardiek, Patient Resource Navigator of Oncology Support Services at the GBMC Cancer Institute as well as a singer with a local band, earned both Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards for her beautiful bolero. Linda Greco Rich (Exit Preferred Realty) and Bob Rich (Saxon’s Diamond Centers) raised $28,109.91 to take home Top Fundraiser honors, inching out second-place winner Kathy Heidelmaier (It’s PayDay) who brought in $28,075.41 for Center for the Arts.
Other dancers in the competition were Katie Cole (JigSaw Marketing Solutions), Barclay and Anthony Gibbs (both of Ballet Chesapeake), Anthony Lisuzzo (Booz Allen Hamilton), David Lockhart (Boeing), Chris Moore (Zayo Group), Lynn Moore (Creative Consultant), Pamela Overbay (Harford Community Action Agency), Suzanne Zantop (Deer Creek Chorale) and student dancers Abby Walsh and Evan Wozniak (C. Milton Wright High School freshmen and students at the Rage Box Dance Center).
Judges for the three shows included Paul Balsamo, Jesse Bane, Kimberly Brueggemann, Colleen Case, the Honorable Elizabeth Bowen, Alan Doran, Dr. Lisa K. Feulner, Pamela Lauer, Tony Meoli, Deborah Pro-Marshall, Reginald Przybylski, Dr. Devonna Rowe, Shelly Stannard, Jim Thornton and Monica Worrell, who provided lively commentary after each routine. Event emcees were Bob Bloom of WXCY Radio (Friday evening), Alan Doran (Saturday matinee) and WJZ-TV reporter Kristy Breslin (Saturday Gala).
In all, nearly 1,000 guests attended, and dozens of businesses, organizations and private donors lent their support, including I95 BUSINESS. Other sponsors were Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union; Absolute Companion Care; Advanced Eye Care; The Aegis; Balsamo, Stewart, Lutters & Ruth, P.A.; BGE, Boeing; Booz, Allen, Hamilton; Brightview Avondell, Bel Air and Perry Hall; Chick-fil-A Aberdeen and Constant Friendship; City of Havre de Grace; Dance Conservatory of Maryland; Events by I Did It Myself; Exit Preferred Realty and Find A House in Maryland; Harford County Style Magazine; House of Cards; Images of Sommer; It’s Payday; Janney Montgomery Scott, Joseph’s Department Store; Laurel Bush Family Dentistry; Oak Contracting, Shaffer, McLauchlin and Stover, LLC; Nationwide Insurance, Pairings Bistro; Society of Italian American Businessmen; Stack and Store Mini Storage; Barbara Stratton; Betty Ward and WXCY Radio.
Event co-chairs Carolyn Evans, Esq. of Sengstacke & Evans, LLC and Dr. Mary Teddy Wray of Laurel Bush Family Dentistry agree that the talent of this year’s dancers was exceptional. Wray says, “It was a fantastic show and the participants raised the bar for performances. The 2016 dancers have big shoes to fill!” Evans adds, “Each year the turnout for Dancing for the Arts grows as does the enthusiasm for the Center for the Arts. This year’s dancers, all those who went before, and everyone who has supported the Center from the start can take pride as ground breaks on the amphitheater this year. The dream is finally becoming a reality!” I95