Bright Lights, Shining Stars! NYCDA Gala

On Thursday, September 5th I made my way down to New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts for NYCDA’s “Bright Lights, Shining Stars” Gala.  In conjunction with the New York City Dance Alliance convention and competition, the NYCDA Foundation was founded by Joe Lanteri to provide college scholarships to young aspiring dancers.

The NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc. is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) public charity, committed to broadening performing arts awareness while advocating education and high standards of excellence in dance.  NYCDAF is dedicated to investing in the next generation of professional performers by offering scholarships for secondary and college education.

The evening of breathtaking dance including performances by NYCDA scholarship winners (accompanied by singer, Kelly King, who has taught vocal master classes to BDC’s Professional Semester students), Complexions Dance Company, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Ballet Next, and Ballet Hispanico.

Though the stage was graced with some notable professional dancers, I think the night was stolen by the NYCDA scholarship winners.  The nineteen dancers performed a contemporary piece to Kelly King’s rendition of RENT’s “No Day But Today.”  It was clear why each dancer was awarded a scholarship from NYCDA – their joy and talent filled the entire theater.  Because of the NYCDA Foundation, those nineteen dancers were awarded college scholarships to extraordinary schools such as New York University, Marymount Manhattan College, Dean College, University of the Arts, and Point Park University.

The night concluded with the one-and-only Liza Minnelli who presented the prestigious “Ambassador of the Arts Award” to one of the greatest dancers of all time, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Liza was, well, Liza!  Her speech about “Misha” was passionate and funny.  When she performed in “Baryshnikov on Broadway” back in 1980, she recounted that she was so intimidated to dance with such an acclaimed professional!  Turns out, however, she had to teach Misha how to do a simple Charleston!

Here’s their show-stopping performance:

Baryshnikov’s acceptance speech was just as genuine and humorous.  “I didn’t prepare a speech,” he admitted.  “I was thinking I might bring out a chair and talk to it, but that’s been done.  Maybe I will do that – but bring a throne – when I am awarded ‘Tsar of the Arts.'”

Here is one of Baryshnikov’s most memorable performances in “Giselle:”

Check out NYCDA’s homepage to learn more about their competitions, scholarship awrads, and annual gala.