Photo provided by Canton Ballet
Tyler Miller’s favorite part of Touchdowns & Tutus is once he feels confident in his dance—to the point that he could do it in his sleep—and when he and his dance partner get to perform in front of the other contestants.
“It’s not too much to practice and get ready to perform because we have our hour practices every week, so I feel pretty prepared with that,” Miller, a Green High School football player, said. “Unless you have to learn a little move on your own, then you have to practice it outside of rehearsals, but if you can get it down, it’s worth it.”
Canton Ballet’s fourth annual Touchdowns & Tutus fundraiser will be at 6:30 p.m. March 7 at Umstattd Performing Arts Hall, with a VIP pregame reception at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and an after party at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The competition will feature 12 duos, each composed of a Canton Ballet dancer and a high school football player. A panel of judges will pick the top three performances, which then will be repeated, and a winner will be selected based on audience applause.
“It’s casual,” said Ashley Bettis, Touchdown & Tutus executive producer. “It makes art very tangible when you can wear your jeans and your sneakers.”
Songs will include everything from Michael Jackson to Taylor Swift to rock ’n’ roll. Eleven choreographers are helping the students prepare during weekly rehearsals.
All of the girls who will be dancing are Canton Ballet students. More than 20 football players showed up to audition for a spot in the performance.
“I think the more we kind of progress with this fundraiser and the more it continues to grow and get bigger in the community, the kids try to come in trying to win it,” Bettis said.
For the first time, this year’s performance will begin with a group opening number, similar to something that would be seen on “Dancing with the Stars.” It will be performed by a cast that includes dancers from each year of Touchdowns & Tutus history.
As for the parties, the pregame event will be on the club level of Benson Stadium with an open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres and an acoustic concert.
After the performance is over, there will be an after-hours tailgate party held at the Hall with food vendors, a DJ and a dance party.
The event is a fundraiser for the Canton Ballet and helps pay for scholarships for ballet students, live music in classrooms and school outreach programs.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students for the performance and are available through the Canton Ballet website. Separate admission is required for the pregame and tailgate events.