HCA’s Artists & Athletes hopes for repeat success

HCA’s Artists & Athletes hopes for repeat success

The quartet of teams in the HCA Artists & Athletes evening will compete for a $500 cash prize and will include a return of last year’s athlete champion Kyle Maltarich (green headband).


Last year when Holley Johnson, executive director of Holmes Center for the Arts, introduced the concept of the dance competition Artists & Athletes to the community, she wasn’t certain how it would be received.

After last year’s success, she expects the second entry into the world that teams a local athlete with HCA’s top talent on the dance floor will be every bit as exciting, well-attended and successful as the first.

“This year is going to be just as good, maybe even bigger, because they’ve stepped it up with their lifts and stunts, and if you come, you’ll be in the audience screaming because it’s so good,” Johnson said.

Artists & Athletes is set to take center stage on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Ohio Star Theater in Sugarcreek at 7 p.m., in what should be a spirited competition between four area high school athletes paired with a quartet of local dancers, each under the instruction of a professional choreographer.

For those who aren’t familiar with this setup, think of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, where two fantastic ingredients unlike one another unite to create an amazing treat.

In paring an athlete used to making the grade in the field of competition with a dancer used to performing under the bright lights of the stage, this event forces the two worlds in a very short period of time to invent a dance that captures both the audience and judges’ attention.

While the audience can’t vote for a favorite, they can make their presence known by creating a fervor for their favorite couple, which is why Johnson said getting the crowd to bring noisemakers, clapping and wild cheering is welcome for this event, where they can try to persuade the judges to opt for their favorite duo.

“It’s like a big pep rally, so we want people to get excited and make some noise,” Johnson said. “It’s a big, festive evening of dancing and fun.”

The four couples will showcase their own interpretation of a variety of dance and music forms, from 1940s swing to today’s hip-hop, as they compete for a $500 grand prize.

Johnson said last year the choreographers weren’t sure what to expect from the athletes, but they soon found out they were competent and competitive. The most difficult task is for the athletes to capture the nuances that accompany dancing including facial expressions and learning how to put aside fears and anxiety to relax and have fun on stage.

Last year’s champion athlete, who is returning to defend his title, is Kyle Maltarich, who will team up with a new partner for this year’s event.

Artists & Athletes will serve as a fundraiser for Holmes Center for the Arts and will feature the following high school students:

—Team #1: West Holmes football and track star Kyle Maltarich and HCA dancer Lilly Goings. The team’s dances will be choreographed by Sophia Beachy and sponsored by Mullet Cabinet.

—Team #2: West Holmes football standout Gus Werner and HCA performer Emma Yoder. The team’s dances will be choreographed by Kori Weber and sponsored by Dutchman Hospitality.

—Team #3: Kidron Central Christian star runner William McFadden and HCA dancer Dakota Olsen. The team’s dances will be choreographed by Ursula Guggisberg and sponsored by Guggisberg.

—Team #4: West Holmes football standout Luke Snyder and HCA dancer Abi Mast. The team’s dances will be choreographed by Jen Marcaletti and sponsored by The Stables at Arrowhead Lake.

Among the competition judges will be Ty Meyer, owner of Promotion Therapy and high school basketball referee, and actor, singer and dancer Brittany Eckstrom. The game show host will be Holmes County entertainer Amy Loveday, well known for her own acumen on stage as an actor.

Each couple has been given 12 hours with their respective choreographer to learn and perfect a dance routine and will compete against each other for a grand prize of $500 for each winning participant, sponsored by Akron Children’s Hospital.

While most dance performance venues are usually quiet, Johnson said this is an event in which patrons are invited to bring their noisemakers to cheer on and support their favorite team.

She said while there are no fan votes, the enthusiasm shown from the crowd will play a role in influencing the judges.

Tickets are $12 for students age 18 and under and $17 for anyone over 18.

More information is available at www.holmescenterforthearts.org/artists-athletes.

All proceeds from the event will go into the HCA general programming fund, which will help the organization develop more programs.

“It’s a fantastic event, but most importantly, it serves as a way for us to raise funds that enable us to continue to provide the type of classes that our community deserves in developing the arts,” Johnson said.

Presenting sponsor for the show is Akron Children’s Hospital while Winning sponsors are NuHaus Outdoors and Fierce Creative Solutions.

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