Columbia City Ballet

Columbia City Ballet dancers perform.

NORTH – Baby Boomers may know the late legendary entertainer Eartha Kitt as Cat Woman in the classic “Batman” series or singer of the jazzy Christmas favorite “Santa Baby," while other generations may know her as Madame Zeroni in the Disney live action film “Holes” or the voice of Yzma in Disney's animated film “The Emperor’s New Groove.”

However, many people aren't aware that Kitt grew up in the town of North nor that her hometown started an annual celebration of her life last year.

Plans are currently being finalized for the 2nd Annual Eartha Kitt Gala Banquet, featuring a performance by the Columbia City Ballet and a silent auction fundraiser, on Jan. 19, 2019. S.C. Senator Tim Scott will also speak during the event.

Kitt was born in 1927 and died in 2008. Having left North at a young age, she went on to have a long, successful career as an actress and singer.

Special guests for the Jan. 19 event will be Kit Shapiro, Kitt’s daughter, and Shapiro's husband.

Tickets, which are limited to 250, are expected to go on sale toward the end of next week and will include dinner and admission to the silent auction fundraiser.

A special performance by the Columbia City Ballet will also be included in the ticket price. The gala will raise money for a proposed museum for the town of North.

Mayor Patty Carson at a recent council meeting said the performance by the Columbia City Ballet will be choreographed to Eartha Kitt’s songs by William Starrett, the ballet's executive and artistic director. Starrett is co-owner of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance with Ballet Mistress Mariclare Miranda.

According to the Columbia City Ballet website, “From his start at San Francisco’s Ballet Celeste and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, through appearances as a principal for the Joffrey Ballet and as a member of American Ballet Theatre under the direction of both Lucia Chase and Mikhail Baryshnikov, to guest appearances with more than 40 of the world’s most renowned ballet companies, Mr. Starrett’s talent as a dancer has earned rave reviews from coast to coast as well as a medal at the very first U.S. International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi … ”

“As director and primary choreographer for the past 28 years, he has created or staged more than 50 works —including 16 original, full-length ballets, 10 classical full-length ballets and 16 original narrated one-act ballets for children — in locations throughout the United States and Europe … ," the website notes.

Starrett was honored by South Carolina’s governor with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for achievement in the arts in 2002.

“Eartha Kitt’s daughter is bringing some items from her mother’s estate to auction off at the event, too,” Carson said, adding that she's grateful for Shapiro's generous donation. Some of the items will be given away as door prizes in appreciation to those purchasing tickets for the gala, the mayor said.

The meal for the gala will be catered, and bids from restaurants are being sought, Carson noted.

Tickets are limited and available by contacting Barbara Jeffcoat at 803.614.2593 or the North Town Hall at 803.247.2101.  Silent auction items may be brought to the North Town Hall.

For more information, email mayor@townofnorth-sc.gov or call North Town Hall at 803-247-2101. Tickets will be made available at various locations in the area.

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Contact the writer: rbaxley37@gmail.com.


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