COLUMBIA — Van Allen channeled his inner Patrick Swayze with modern salsa moves to dance his way to a victory Thursday night at the second annual Dancing with Missouri Stars.
Allen, the chief executive officer of a local physician recruiting company, TimeLine Recruiting, and his partner Cynthia Anderson, a professional dancer, shimmied to the tune of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”
Crowds of onlookers, some wearing cocktail dresses and suits, applauded as Allen lifted his partner and spun her in the air.
The pair’s homage to Dirty Dancing won over the crowd and garnered the trophy.
“It was an amazing event and it was for a good cause,” Allen said. Allen saw the dancing as a “massive challenge” that was fun yet time-intensive.
Allen and Anderson, along with the other nine competing couples, practiced for the event for two months. The event raised $69,000 for the Missouri Contemporary Ballet.
Karen Grundy, artistic and executive director of the ballet, arranged the dance competition. She described the event as a success. Every seat on the floor was sold out, she said.
“It’s far exceeded my expectations,” Grundy said.
The judges gave their opinions, but in the end it was the audience who chose the winners with their votes.
The second runners-up were personal trainer Scott Croom and dancer Amanda Buchana. The first runners up were Frank Sovich, co-owner of Columbia’s Marathon Office Interiors, and dancer Ashley Mayer.
Other local “celebrities” included Richard King, Steve Hagan, Jerome Sally, Barb Glenn, Sarah French, Yvette Nieto and Brenda Haynes.
“Everybody was so good.” Allen said. “I probably would have picked someone over me.”
The event closed with a dramatic announcement of the winners, followed by good-natured congratulations to the winners.
Though she was sad that her dad didn’t win, Kelli Hagan, 19, said she “really loved watching all the dancers.”