Canton Ballet’s annual Touchdowns and Tutus experience is set for Saturday, March 7, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. The family-friendly event pairs high school football players with Canton Ballet ballerinas in a performance competition at Umstattd Performing Arts Hall located at 2323 17th Street, N.W. on the Pro Football Hall of Fame campus in Canton.

The dancing duos will perform in front of celebrity judges including College Football Playofff host and Heisman voter Rachel Baribeau, former Sarasota Ballet soloist and Canton Ballet alumna Kelly Yankle (notable as the face of Touchdowns and Tutus) and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2014 member Walter Jones, former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle who is being honored by the NFL as one of the top players in the league’s first 100 years.  This will mark the first time a Pro Football Hall of Famer has participated in Touchdowns and Tutus.

The 12 couples and their schools are Mya Frank, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Andrew Wilson Lamp, Massillon Washington; Emily Kuntz, GlenOak, and Xavier Thornton, GlenOak; Morgan Lineweaver, Hoover, and Alejandro Salazar, Massillon Washington; Caroline Zollinger, Hoover, and Tyler Miller, Green; Natalie Schmitt, Lake Center Christian, and Nathan Guiley, Louisville; AnnaBella Purses, North Canton Middle School, and Garrison Markins, Minerva; Mia Ignacio, Jackson, and Demetrius Evans, Sandy Valley; Megan Miller, Hoover, and Tyler Neal, Canton Central Catholic; Margaret Kingsbury, GlenOak, and Nehemiah Saipaia, McKinley; Matalan Nikishin, Canton Central Catholic, and Ahmon Williams, Massillon Washington; Alicia Martinez, Malone College Prep, and Ethan Godwin, Fairless; Aleesha Singh and Donny Woodward, Jackson.

Touchdowns and Tutus choreographers are Canton Ballet choreographer in residence Angelo Lemmo; area dance educators Leslie Yoder, Megan Brosey, Joey Butler and Lindsy Keck; Case Western Reserve faculty Richard Oaxaca; and Canton Ballet alumnae Ana Bettis, Emily Gordon, Brittani Harris, Victoria Suba and Joy Raub.

The performance will be preceded by live backstage interviews filmed and shown by Josh Branch and GlenOak High School film students. The interviews will be conducted by David Lee Morgan,Jr. author of Lebron James: Rise of a Star, and Taylor Adams, Touchdowns and Tutus 2017 grand champion. The show will be emceed by Matt Wintz of WKYC TV and Megan McCrea of Q92 Radio.

Touchdowns and Tutus is the only known event that pairs area high school football players with ballerinas.  It has been featured on the NFL Network and Fox Sports 1 as  part of NFL Films Presents.

Ashley Bettis is the event chair.  Proceeds will provide funding assistance for Canton Ballet’s youth and minority scholarships, schools outreach and public performances.

Performance admission is $25 for adults and $15 for children under 18.  Add-on tickets include the VIP Pre-Game Party on the Club Level floor of the spectacular Tom Benson Pro Football Hall of Fame Stadium, and a tailgate after party at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Events Center which includes a museum tour. Tickets are available at www.cantonballet.com or by calling the ballet box office at 330.455.7220.

Major Touchdowns and Tutus sponsors to date are Acme Market Fresh, ArtsinStark, The Canton Repository, Q92 Radio, Krugliak Wilkins, Courtyard Marriott Canton, Enviroscapes, Canton Girl Gang, Martin Sports Production, Mobile Jams, Paper Twigs, Paragraphics, Sirpilla Soirees, Mercy Medical Center and Ericka Glass MD at Spectrum Orthopedics.

About Canton Ballet

Canton Ballet has fostered an appreciation of the art of dance throughout the region for over 50 years. Under the guidance of artistic and executive director Cassandra Crowley, the Ballet is one of the most admired pre-professional dance companies in Ohio, and its School provides the highest quality instruction for all ages and skill levels, toddler to adult.  Canton Ballet performs public and school performances at the Canton Palace Theatre throughout the year.  This season’s productions include Celebrate Dance!, The Nutcracker and The Wizard of Oz.