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"America Dances!" - Career Transition for Dancers 24th Anniversary Jubilee
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"America Dances!" - Career Transition for Dancers 24th Anniversary Jubilee

- Onstage with the Dancers: Special Events

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America Dances!
Celebrating Our Sparkling Heritage
Career Transition for Dancers 24th Anniversary Jubilee
Dedicated to the Memory of Patrick Swayze (1952-2009)
(Patrick Swayze Web Page)

Lawrence Herbert
Patrick Swayze
Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation
At New York City Center, NYC

Presented by Rolex

Producer and Director: Ann Marie DeAngelo
Executive Producer: Alexander J. Dubé
Lighting Designer: Clifton Taylor
Production Stage Manager: Lori Rosecrans Wekselblatt
Press: KPM Associates: Kevin P. McAnarney
Script: Ann Marie DeAngelo, David Warren Gibson,
Virginia Johnson

Musical Director: Jim Morgan
Announcer: Conard Fowkes
Jubilee Musicians: Steve Kenyon on Reeds,
Glen Drewes on Trumpet, Jeff Nelson on Trombone,
Ernie Collins on Bass/Tuba, Sean McDaniel on Drums

24th Anniversary Chairs: Anka K. Palitz, Allen Brill

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 2, 2009

(See On Broadway! Review, October 27, 2008)

Once again, Career Transition for Dancers (CTFD) held its annual Anniversary Jubilee at New York’s City Center, and this year’s theme was America Dances! This event is predictably fun and energizing, with the renowned and lesser known stars of stage and screen performing excerpts throughout the intermission-less, long evening (The event is followed by a Gala Dinner for Patrons and their guests). CTFD offers counseling, job contacts, housing assistance, and scholarships to professionals in the dance community, representing all forms of dance. They also assist dancers in their next careers, as many retire by 40 or soon after.

ROLEX is the main Sponsor of the CTFD galas, and this year’s Chairs were again Anka K. Palitz and Allen Brill, two familiar faces to these festivities. Ann Marie DeAngelo once again produced and directed the show. This year’s Gala event honored and was dedicated to Patrick Swayze (1952-2009), who won the Golden Globe three times for acting, dancing, and singing-songwriting. Mr. Swayze had studied and danced with the Harkness Ballet Company, Joffrey Ballet, and Eliot Feld Ballet. He also became a Hollywood icon for his star role in Dirty Dancing and was a Broadway icon for his star role in Grease. Mr. Swayze was also a small screen icon, with numerous television specials and dramas. Tonight, Lisa Niemi Swayze, Patrick’s wife of 34 years, received the ROLEX watch award, honoring her late husband. She was eloquent, unassuming, and gracious.

Also honored for Outstanding Contributions to the World of Dance was Lawrence Herbert, founder of Pantone, Inc., a color standards company, for his generous contributions to New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet, where he and his wife serve on the Boards. Jock Soto, retired New York City Ballet principal, introduced Mr. Herbert, who also has a position on the New York State Council on the Arts. Lloyd E. Rogler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation was another recipient for Outstanding Contributions, and James D. Rigler accepted the Award from Samuel Ramay, of the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Rigler and Mr. Deutsch were entrepreneurs and businessmen, with considerable philanthropic gifts, through their Foundation, such as to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Los Angeles Music Center. They also created an extensive collection of vocal recording.

Tonight’s show was a mixed bag, not as glamorous as in years past, but never dull. The film collage of clips of American dance history, for me, was a high point. Usually the high points occur later in the show, but this particular collage, produced by Ann Marie DeAngelo and JoAnn Young, edited by Laura Young, included the icons of ballet, modern, Broadway, tap, and jazz, from stage, screen, and the clubs. Jacques D’Amboise gave the Opening Remarks, with a Balanchine-related anecdote about his original role in the pas de deux from Stars and Stripes with Melissa Hayden, tonight performed by New York City Ballet principals, Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette. As always, Ms. Bouder was playful, engaging the audience, and her balance and improvisational gestures were very appropriate for this celebratory event. Mr. Veyette catapulted about, lifted Ms. Bouder on high, and generally captivated the black-tie audience with his backward leaps and turns. Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Dance Company performed a work with the “Orpheus” (Gluck) score. Ms. Belilove and the ensemble of six were ravishing in authentic Duncan choreography.

The American Tap Youth Ensemble, with members of the Tap City Youth presented “Izzici”, a South African Gum Boot Dance, which was propulsive and athletic, and the Lombard Twins presented “The Dance Concert”, in two parts, to live and recorded music from Piazzolla, with Nick Danielson on violin and Juan Pablo Jofre Romarion on bandoneón. I was more than disappointed to hear the exquisite Piazzolla scores used for purposes of these male-duo agitated antics. More elegant was Valerie Harper, beloved star of Broadway and television, followed by the dramatically infused duo of Jason Kittelberger and Acacia Schacte of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, dancing “Cold Song”. However, I preferred Mercedes Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies”, backed by Michael Choi and Kent Drake. This was classy staging, and Ms. Ellington exudes attitude and pizzazz. Bullettrun’s "Journey Into Darkness”, DecadanceTheatre’s “The City Breathing”, and The Street Beats Group were too much of the same, resulting in an image of downtown-experimental, not worthy of this annual Gala.

In contrast, another high point was the Testimonial Segment, with Gayle Conran, a CTFD grant recipient, former ballerina turned Public Relations Executive. She related synopsized success stories of herself and the eight former CTFD Grantees: Mary Barnett, Hope Clarke, James Crescent, Hans Kriefall, Krisha Marcano, Anne Marsden, Dottie Belle Meymann, and Leo Schmidt. Each former Grantee had a unique and inspiring path to the present. Yet another high point was “If I Loved You”, choreographed by Ann Marie DeAngelo, and danced by Nicole Graniero (ABT Corps) and John Selya (Twyla Tharp’s Movin’ Out). This was a rapturous and mesmerizing ballet performance. Kathleen Marshall appeared, and then Sonya Tayeh Dance, in “The Path We Left”. Melody Lacayanga and William Johnston danced to “Keep the Streets Empty for Me”.

When the next duo took the stage, the City Center crowd loosened with enthusiasm, as two pre-teens, Alexandra Gutkovich and John Gaylan danced a truly authentic and sassy Salsa, in costume, attitude, and precise footwork and partnering. They looked like miniature adults, make-up and hair, but ingénue, as well. This segment was titled “Strictly Not-Ballroom”, and its second half featured Adealani Malia and Mark Stuart Eckstein from M. Stuart Dance Theatre, and an ensemble, in dramatically infused show-ballroom dance. The mood was now elevated, and Nicole Fosse introduced her father’s “Dancin’”, excerpts from “America”. Bob Fosse’s choreography is uniquely the crème de la crème of American dance and a perfect closing act for this Gala. Robert LaFosse, Jennifer Dunne, Dylis Croman, Sandahl Bergman, Dana Moore, Caitlin Carter, John Selya, Alex Sanchez, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Sean Fosse, Michael Blevins, and Matthew Dibble all danced with the utmost class, charm, poise, and joy that lit a fire to this Finale. Kudos to Career Transition for Dancers for all their great work.

Andrew Veyette, Ashley Bouder in
Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes"
Pas de Deux
Courtesy of Richard Termine

Alexandra Gutkovitch, John Gaylan in
Part One - Strictly Not Ballroom
Courtesy of Richard Termine

Adealani Malia, Mark Stuart Eckstein in
Part Two - Strictly Not Ballroom
Courtesy of Richard Termine

CTFD Grant Recipients in
Testimonial Segment
Courtesy of Richard Termine

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