By Logan McSwain, Charlotte Ballet
On March 7, 2015, Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte fundraising gala welcomed over 900 guests to the Knight Theater and raised $790,000. The event was chaired by Andrea Smith, global head of human resources for Bank of America and last year’s People’s Choice winner.
Judges’ Choice winner Dianne Chipps Bailey and her partner Jordan Leeper Photo by Jeff Cravotta
The event, it its third year, paired local stars from some of Charlotte’s most esteemed corporations with the professional dancers of Charlotte Ballet, to raise funds for the ballet company and each star’s chosen charity. The entire community was invited to vote for their favorite pair. Each vote cost $1. Votes and income from tickets were split between Charlotte Ballet and the stars’ charities, with sponsorship dollars staying with Charlotte Ballet to help offset the cost of the event. This year $265,000 is going to six charities the stars chose to support.
The theme of the gala was “A Night in Neverland” inspired by Charlotte Ballet’s upcoming Peter Pan production. The journey to Neverland began with dramatic flair as guests arrived through the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, greeted by an ethereal Tinkerbell. Guests mingled during cocktail hour and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres from various cuisine partners, while sponsors were served a formal dinner upstairs.
Guests then made their way into the Knight Theater for the dancing competition. The six stars and their professional dance partners performed varying routines, from salsa to swing, with two winners named. Cathy Bessant, global technology and operations executive with Bank of America, won the People’s Choice award for raising the most money. Bessant raised over $255,000 for Charlotte Ballet and her chosen charity - Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center.
Judges’ Choice winner Dianne Chipps Bailey with People’s Choice Winner Cathy Bessant Photo by Jeff Cravotta
The Judges’ Choice winner was selected by judges Hugh McColl Jr., Pat Rodgers and Stoney Sellars. Receiving three perfect 10s for her swing routine, Dianne Chipps Bailey, an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A., won the Judges’ Choice. Bailey danced for the Discovery Place Welcome program.
Other stars and their chosen charities were Midge Barron dancing for Novant Health Foundation Heart & Vascular and Cancer Institute; Walter Dolhare, head of Markets Division for Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, dancing for RunningWorks; Dr. Derek Raghavan, president of Levine Cancer Institute, dancing for Levine Cancer Institute Disparities in Cancer Care Program; and Lloyd M. Yates, executive vice president of market solutions and president of Duke Energy’s Carolinas Region, dancing for The Salvation Army.
In addition to the dancing competition, guests were treated to two performances by Charlotte Ballet, including excerpts from Peter Pan, which opens March 12 at the Knight Theater. When the performances concluded, the stage transformed into a dance floor, livened with music from Big Swing and Ballroom Blasters.
Star dancer Lloyd Yates with partner Melissa Anduiza. Photo by Jeff Cravotta.