Let’s Talk with Lee Lumpkin

An encore for charity

brantin@thestate.comJanuary 21, 2013 

— An artistic campaign to raise awareness and support for the Free Medical Clinic of Columbia will take center stage this weekend in Columbia.

Members of Columbia Classical Ballet will join dancers from around the country Saturday evening for the annual LifeChance charity event at the Koger Center. This year’s performance will feature dancers from the Boston Ballet and the Washington (DC) Ballet including Brooklyn Mack, an Elgin native who began his dance training with Columbia Classical Ballet artistic director Radenko Pavlovich.

Since staging its first LifeChance event in 1995 to raise money for Bosnian refugees in the former Yugoslavia – Pavlovich’s homeland – the ballet company has supported various community organizations, including the American Heart Association, Palmetto Place, YMCA, Ronald McDonald House, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Harvest Hope Food Bank, and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

Lee Lumpkin, Columbia Classical Ballet’s board chairwoman, spoke recently about the event and its significance to the nonprofit and arts communities.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of showcasing the arts as a way of raising money for worthwhile causes?

Lumpkin: “For me the arts are a most worthy charity. They heal the soul and provide an avenue for hope where one may never have existed. There is nothing that is not possible and the discovery of what is new is endless. I feel that that is the common denominator for all charities, so it seems so natural that we would do this together, actually complementing each other while we are still very distinctive from each other.”

How are the charities selected each year and how was this year’s charity chosen?

Lumpkin: “The board of Columbia Classical Ballet selects its charity each year. With the present state of the economy we have focused a little more on the family. Last year Harvest Hope Food Bank was our beneficiary and this year the Free Medical Clinic.”

We understand this event is often a reunion of sorts.

Lumpkin: “Yes. Many dancers return to us years later as principals from all over the world. Our own company members are medalists from all over the world. There is this great feeling of family, of camaraderie and warmth, and that oneness takes the stage along with the magnificence of the performance.”

What are some particulars guests can look forward to on Saturday?

Lumpkin: “I think that whenever we welcome back Brooklyn Mack to his home stage it is a gift. He just took 23 curtain calls at the Kremlin. He is glorious and a role model for all young men. He ignites the stage and this LifeChance he will do a contemporary choreography as only he can. It will be unbelievable.”

Will the Free Medical Clinic be represented in any way at this event?

Lumpkin: “Yes, they will have a representative there to take the stage and share their mission. They will also be in the lobby with information about the clinic.”

There appears to be a general spirit of support for area charities in the Midlands, not only among the arts but many other areas. To what do you contribute that spirit?

Lumpkin: “I think there is great compassion from people toward those in need, whether it is in the arts or any other with a mission we respect. I see those that can give change or a dollar happily and often doing it. I see all age groups and walks of life trying to help however they can. It was so evident ringing the bell for Salvation Army. And how often do we see our young people at McDonald’s putting in change for the Ronald MacDonald House? It is the American way.”

LifeChance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Koger Center. Tickets range from $5 to $32 and are available by calling (803) 251-2222, online at capitoltickets.com or at the door.

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