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Shall We Dance - A Tribute to Richard Rodgers, a review by Roberta Zlokower
- Onstage with the Dancers

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Career Transition for Dancers' Awards
For Outstanding Contributions to Dance
8th Annual Next Step Gala
City Center, NYC

Presented by Rolex and Honoring Richard Rodgers, Ann Reinking, and
Philip Morris Companies, Inc.

Directed by Donald Saddler
Produced by Ann Marie DeAngelo
Music Director, Tony Monte
Lighting Designer, Brad Fields
Event Management, Weiss Creative Group
Press Representatives, KPM Associates, Kevin P. McAnarney

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on
October 21, 2002

A Gala performance of dance, personal reflections, special awards, and an after-performance Gala Dinner Dance at the Sheraton Hotel were created for tonight to honor the dance music of Richard Rodgers, the dance and choreography career of Ann Reinking, and the Corporate Contributions to dance by Philip Morris Companies, Inc. (award accepted by Jennifer P. Goodale, Director, Corporate Contributions). This Benefit was presented by and for Career Transition for Dancers, an organization that has benefited 2,400 dancers in physical and other career emergencies, through generous funding, provided by sponsors and philanthropists.

Ann Reinking, in an exquisite short black outfit, that revealed her well conditioned dancing legs, accepted a gold Rolex watch from Martha Webster, Director of Communications, Rolex Watch USA, Inc., for her outstanding contributions to the field of dance. Bebe Neuwirth welcomed the audience of dance aficionados, corporate sponsors, various officials and stars, and the general, NY dance audience. Additional comments and reflections were offered by Linda Shelton (Executive Director, Joyce Theater), Sandra Brown, American Ballet Theatre (a recipient of a Career Transition for Dancers Award), Frederic Franklin (member of the original Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo), Peter Martins (Artistic Director, NYC Ballet), Mercedes Ellington, Martha Webster (Rolex), and Richard Rodgers' daughters, Linda Rodgers Emory and Mary Rodgers Guettel.

Performing at this sold-out, ninety- minute event were stars of various Modern Dance, Ballroom, Ballet, Tap, Broadway, and Jazz Dance Ensembles and Companies. The National Dance Institute Celebration Team, a group of highly talented youngsters, performed in a most engaging and energetic style to Shall We Dance? (King and I, 1951, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) They danced solos and then partnered a rousing two-step polka across the stage. Sandra Brown and Isaac Stappas of American Ballet Theatre danced, with theatricality and melancholy, the Pas de Deux from Carousel (1945).

Excerpts from Blue Moon (1934, lyrics by Lorenz Hart) was the backdrop for two upbeat and athletic, jazz sequences, danced by Jennifer Muller/The Works. Lorena Feijoo and Damian Smith of the San Francisco Ballet danced to No Other - Beneath the Southern Cross (Victory at Sea, 1952), a sensual and extremely well partnered duo. Sandy Duncan, in humorous and scintillating dance form, leaped into the arms of two partners, Don Correia and Guy Stroman, in Ten Cents a Dance (Simple Simon, 1930, Lyrics by Lorenz Hart).

Ghost Town, an excerpt from Ghost Town Revisited (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, 1939) was danced Mary Beth Hansohn and Damien Highfield of Ohio Ballet. Mr. Highfield, in a Cowboy dance outfit, leaped in circular fashion, with utmost skill and bravado, and Ms. Hansohn was a perfect Old West, frolicking cowgirl. In The Sweetest Sounds (No Strings, 1962, Lyrics by Richard Rodgers), Karen Ziemba sang and danced in mock competition with Dance Times Square's Melanie LaPatin and Tony Meredith. Ms. LaPatin, with bright red curly hair, vied for Mr. Meredith, while Ms. Ziemba, a multi-talented Broadway singer and dancer, walked off with the prize. Wendee Lee Curtis and Karen Callaway Williams, with the New Jersey Tap Ensemble Teen Rep, sang and tapped to All Dark People (Babes in Arms, 1937) with red and black Nicholas Brothers' outfits. Mercedes Ellington introduced and choreographed the historic dance.

Sandra Brown and Marcelo Gomes (also of ABT) of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company danced an especially unique and well connected My Funny Valentine (Babes in Arms, 1937). Damian Woetzel and Maria Kowroski, of the New York City Ballet, as Hoofer and Strip-Tease Girl, danced a leggy excerpt from sexy and sassy Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (On Your Toes, 1936), NYC Ballet Premiere, 1968. The final piece, You'll Never Walk Alone (Carousel, 1945, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II), sung by La Chanze and breathtakingly performed by Antigravity's Mam Smith, involved acrobatic daring, as Ms. Smith hung mid-air, by one arm, foot, leg, head, from descending white material, attached at the rafters. She swung and somersaulted in space, with the assistance of bare sections of this wispy trapeze.

Kudos to Career Transition for Dancers, to Rolex, to Philip Morris Companies, Inc., to Donald Saddler, to Bebe Neuwirth, to Ann Reinking, to Weiss Creative Group, to KPM Associates, to all Performers, Choreographers, Musicians, and Dance Companies, and, most importantly, kudos to Richard Rodgers.

Photos by Roberta Zlokower

Jennifer P. Goodale (Philip Morris), Ann Reinking (Award Recipient), Martha Webster (Rolex)

Jennifer P. Goodale, Ann Reinking, Martha Webster

Martha Webster, Ann Reinking, Mary Rodgers Guettel, Linda Rodgers Emory (Richard Rodgers' Daughters)

Guests Marian Butler, Joaquin De Luz, of ABT


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at