Arts and Entertainment
|The dancer is an athlete. The coach? Maybe.|
|'Dancing With The Stars' March 7|
|Published Sunday, February 23, 2020 7:00 pm|
|PHOTO | CHARLOTTE BALLET|
|Charlotte 49ers football coach and Charlotte Ballet dancer Raven Barkley.|
Ballet meets football next month at Knight Theater.
Charlotte Ballet’s “Dancing With the Stars” fundraising and charity event is March 7 at 8:30 p.m., paring six community and corporate leaders with an equal number of dancers. Charlotte Ballet dancer Raven Barkley will perform with Charlotte 49ers football coach Will Healy. For Healy, it is a very different atmosphere compared to Club Lit, which 49ers fans know as the team’s locker room after a win.
“I am a terrible dancer,” Healy said. “I always try to act like I am a good dancer, but this is really exposing me, especially when I have to dance in front of a mirror. I wish I never had to see the video, and I could just go out there and do it. Raven has been incredible. The experience has been awesome.”
Said Barkley: “Working with coach Healy has been an absolute blast. He is the sweetest person, and he is so committed to our piece and our movement.”
While this is Barkley’s third time dancing in the program, it is her first time choreographing the piece she and her partner will perform.
“I decided to take it a little bit back to the Bronx and hip-hop,” Barkley said. “We are dancing to MC Hammer’s ‘Can’t Touch This.’ [Healy] is doing an awesome job. The first thing he said was, ‘I have two left feet,’ and I was like, ‘no, you’re going to be fine. It’s all about finding that swag,’ and he has definitely found it within the two weeks that we have been rehearsing.”
UNC Charlotte Associate Vice Chancellor Beth Crigler and Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation Board Chair John Fitzhugh , who danced in the 2019 program, approached Healy following football practice about participating in the event.
“[They] said, ‘we’ve never had anyone from the university who has been incorporated into this—this is a big deal. Would you be interested in doing it?’” Healy said. “I was absolutely willing to do it, and I know how big of a dork I look like dancing just in practice right now. I can’t imagine how bad [I’m] going to look on March 7.”
Barkley and Healy are dancing to benefit the university’s student mental health initiatives. A fatal campus shooting last April made support for students in the months since more important than ever.
“It is important, especially in a high-pressure environment like college to have the necessary tools to help those in need and help with all the stress that comes with being a college student,” Barkley said.
Said Healy: “For us to be able help the Charlotte Ballet and also to be able to raise money for mental health and wellness on our campus is a big deal, and I am passionate about doing it. I know I am putting myself in a very vulnerable situation, with 1,500 people watching me do something I am very uncomfortable doing, but I tell our guys all the time to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and I’m definitely putting myself in that situation.”
Fundraising continues leading up to the event. Attendees donate the night of the event, and donations are accepted up until the Friday before the event. The Star Pair who raises the most money earns the People’s Choice Award, and the pair with the best moves receives the Judges’ Choice Award. Each dollar donated equals one vote, which can be tracked on the Star Dancer leaderboard on Charlotte Ballet’s website.
“There are several different buckets for how people can give to the event,” said Charlotte Ballet’s Individual Giving Manger Rachel Rizer. “It is split between charities of our star dancer’s choice and the Charlotte Ballet. Donations are split evenly. Tickets are split evenly, and then sponsorship stays with the ballet. That’s just to cover the cost of the event. People can get involved all sorts of ways.”
Participants and their charity of choice include: PNC Bank’s Nina Austin and Charlotte Ballet’s Josh Hall (Read Charlotte); Wells Fargo’s Jennifer Doyle and Charlotte Ballet’s James Kopecky (The Relatives); Lending Tree’s Jill Olmstead and Charlotte Ballet’s Juwan Alston (Charlotte Family Housing); Atrium Health’s Rasu Sherstha and Charlotte Ballet’s Sarah Hayes Harkins (Atrium Health Medical Education Endowment).
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