Boys & Girls Club raises over $271k, Balach wins Judge’s Choice

Published 1:54 pm Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi’s Dance Like the Stars event raised more than $271,000 for the youth development organization. 

The annual event broadcast before a live audience on Aug. 21 from the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo and has been enjoyed virtually with more than 3,000 views. 

Ten local celebrities competed for the titles of Grand Champion and Judges’ Choice.  Each celebrity was paired with a dance professional at The Dance Studio of Tupelo to learn and perform a ballroom dance routine.  

Miriam Anderson of Ripley, took home the title of Grand Champion by raising $54,433.  Victor McMillan of Tupelo came in second with $44,579 and Dr. Laura Marion of Tupelo raised $40,291 to take third place.

University of Mississippi Chair and Professor of Music Nancy Maria Balach, one of the celebrity dancers, and her partner Andrew Davis prepared a ballroom dance as a homage to the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing. Balach said the experience was exhilarating for her.

“It was fun having a live audience and hearing all of their reactions – especially when we did the lift and it meant so much knowing that family and friends who could not be in town because of COVID were able to watch the live stream,” she said. “Getting to perform my ‘80s childhood fantasy dance and lift in the year I turn 50 years young feels amazing.”

Balach and Davis rehearsed their routine for a total of 25 hours and are happy to have brought back the Judge’s Choice Award to Oxford.  

Celebrity judges awarded the first place Judges’ Choice to Balach.  Second place in the Judges’ Choice category went to Brooke Burleson of Tupelo, and McMillan of Tupelo came in third. 

2021 Celebrity Dancers included:  Miriam Anderson of Ripley, Alli Hodges of New Albany, Nancy Maria Balach of Oxford and Brooke Burleson, Dr. Laura Marion, Victor McMillan, Daniella Oropeza, Dr. Gabe Rulewicz, Demetra Sherer and Joe Washington all of Tupelo. 

The Dance Studio of Tupelo is owned by Rubye Del Harden.  Professional instructors include:  Tammy Wilson, Benjamin Pryor, Andrew Davis, Sara Wood and Gemi Moore. 

The opening performance of the evening was provided by members of the Boys & Girls Club Ballroom Dance Team.  The group is made up of youth who have studied ballroom dance at The Dance Studio and showcase the skills which they have learned on that evening. This program is made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment For The Arts. 

“That there is so much good in the world and that each of us can really make a difference,” said Balach. “Every person who donated is responsible for having a positive impact in a child’s life and that is powerful.”

Celebrity hosts were Allie Martin, Katrina Berry-Hooper, Alyssa Martin and Greg Pirkle.  The arena was beautifully decorated by Designs by Tracy Proctor and local volunteers. 

The show can still be viewed through a link on the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi Facebook page.

The Facebook People’s Choice award went to Daniella Oropeza. 

It is the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.  Serving North Mississippi since 1996, the organization reaches more than 2,000 youth annually through clubhouse locations in Tupelo, Oxford, Ripley and New Albany.