‘Dancing for Divas: A Labor of Love’ Benefit at Howard Community College TONIGHT, Saturday, October 22nd at 8pm

The Bald Ballerina stages a dance in the name of Love

dancing-for-divas-1 Her many Howard County supporters would probably be pleased if Maggie Kurdirka, The Bald Ballerina, merely walked on stage and posed in her gorgeous arabesque at Saturday night’s Dancing for Divas, A Labor Love benefit concert at Howard Community College in Columbia. Ballet fans would be thrilled if she just whipped off a fouette (one of those spinning turns performed on a single foot en pointe), or if she danced a variation of The Nutcracker, a role the 24 year-old ballerina has graced so many stages with before and after she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.

But Maggie wants to do more for this year’s fundraiser for the college’s Helping Hands Fund and dance scholarships. The Howard County native, together with USA International Ballet Competition gold medal-winner Adrienne Canterna, has created a new work titled Loss and Survival. Set to Edith Piaf’s poignant music, the performance features a gut-wrenching solo that touches all and lingers long after the curtain closes.

Caterna will perform an original contemporary ballet with Ken Corrigan, a member of the group Bad Boys of Ballet that has toured all over the world. This work is dedicated to Kurdirka who has her own benefit concert scheduled Sunday, January 8, 2017 in the same Smith Theatre at the college.

Carole Graham Lehan. Photo courtesy of Young Artists of America.
Director Carole Graham Lehan. Photo courtesy of Young Artists of America.

Directed by Carole Graham Lehan, a sweetheart in local theater, Dancing for Divas honors Eva Anderson, a dancer, choreographer, director and costume designer; Doris Ligon, who founded the Maryland Museum of African Art; Valerie Lash, actor extraordinaire and beloved dean and Toby Orenstein, an award-winning theater director and humanitarian.

And that’s not all. There are the Columbia pioneer dancer, choreographers/supporters of dance in Columbia going back 50 years! Marcia Lachman holds the title of “First Dance Teacher in Columbia,” Caryl Maxwell began teaching ballet in the 1970s, and we remember Ann Waugh Allen, who took teenagers off the street and taught them to perform multi-media theater and dance.

At Slayton House, Debra Devoe formed Dance Kaleidoscope and Judy Templeton introduced kids to theatrical dance. The list goes on with dancers, choreographers, writers, producers, and modern dance mavens from those early years in The New City.

Adria Tennor, a Wilde Lake High School and NYU alumna, is traveling from Hollywood to emcee the event. Adria currently lives and works in Los Angeles and has performed in TV shows such as Mad Men and an episode of NCIS. Her first film, Cracked won Best Director of a Short Film in 2015 at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase in Beverly Hills. She will co-host with Broadway performer Ric Ryder, a triple threat who has supported these benefits since they began in 1988. Ryder will pay tribute to Toby Orenstein, founder of The Young Columbians, also on the bill.

Patricia Hammer will accompany noted jazz singer SAISA in “I Wish You Love,” especially for Doris Ligon. The Misako Ballet will dance two works, one choreographed by Eva Anderson. Broadway starlet Ashley Blair Fitzgerald will heat up the program with “I Gotcha” from Liza Minnelli’s Liza with a Z.


Dancing for Divas: A Labor of Love plays TOMORROW: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2016 AT 8 p.m. in the Smith Theater at Howard Community College – 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia, MD 21044.



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Carolyn Kelemen
Carolyn Kelemen is an award-winning arts critic and feature writer for the Baltimore Sun, Howard County Times, and Columbia Flier - 45 years and counting. The Columbia resident earned her Masters Degree in Dance at Mills College in California and has taught college and graduate courses at Goucher College, Loyola, the College of Notre Dame and Howard Community College. A professional dancer throughout the East Coast in the late 50s and early 60s, she was trained in classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and tap. Her TV/film career includes MPT’s “ weeknight Alive” and years of local productions in the Maryland/DC area. Carolyn is a longtime member of the Dance Critics of America, the American Theatre Critics Association. She has proudly produced the “A Labor of Love” AIDS benefits since 1988.


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