With a pained expression on his face, Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson kneels next to the body of dancer Julia Morgan and grieves.
Then, as part of a dream sequence, Morgan rises and dances a short ballet before she and Johnson break into a waltz.
During a rehearsal in the Ballroom Dance Center, the pair easily glide through their Romeo and Juliet-themed performance they’ll showcase tonight in the Bell Auditorium for Dancing Stars of Augusta.
Based on the television show Dancing with the Stars, the annual fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association of Augusta pairs such area personalities as Johnson, Blaine Bailey, Chris Bonham, Kathy Tuckey, Ed Presnell and Vera Stewart with professional dancing partners in a contest to raise money and impress dance judges.
Though competent on the dance floor, Johnson admits he possesses no twinkle-toes.
“I’m not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “But I am a good fundraiser and this is a great cause.
“Since I’ve started this, I’ve learned a lot about Alzheimer’s and how devastating a disease it can be. I’m glad to do whatever I can to help, even getting on the dance floor.”
Each dancer was given a fundraising goal of $5,000. Johnson set his personal goal at $30,000 and as of Monday was less than $4,000 short of meeting it.
Funds are accumulated through ticket sales and by patrons voting on their favorite performers on the dancingstarsofaugusta.com Web site or on the night of the show. Each performer has a personalized site visitors can access and make a donation. Tickets, which cost $25 each for balcony seats, also can be purchased on the site.
On the night of the show, which starts with dinner at 7 p.m., trophies will be awarded for people’s choice and judges’ choice.
Though a proven success as a fundraiser, Johnson said any acclaim he receives from the dance judges on Friday will be due solely to Morgan.
A former principal ballerina with the Augusta Ballet, Morgan now teaches ballet at the Augusta Preparatory Day School Conservatory and dance at Warren Road Elementary School as part of the Arts Infusion Program.
Last year, she performed the hustle with Knology executive Abu Khan for Dancing Stars of Augusta.
Morgan, of Evans, said she has high hopes for the routine she choreographed for her and Johnson.
“Ballet is more formal than any other kind of dance, so when I do something different, like a waltz, it feels more loose and fun,” Morgan said. “Though we want to win, we want to have fun doing it.”
For more on Dancing Stars of Augusta, contact the Augusta Alzheimer’s Association’s Dee Dee Kurilla at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 731-9060.