Dancers over 40 Legacy Awards

Every year Dancers over 40 honors a number of dancers and choreographers who are truly “Singular Sensations,” having had remarkable careers and influence on the dance community.  This year I was lucky enough to volunteer as an usher for the event held at the super-funky Lips Restaurant.  The presentation started with video footage of the honorees and then led into speeches by Chita Rivera, Leni Anders, Dennis Grimaldi, Billy Goldenberg, Kim Jordan, Donna McKechnie, Leslie Uggams, and Ken Urmston.

After hearing those speeches, I had never wanted to be a dancer so badly in my life.  I was so inspired by the talent and The DO40 Legacy Awards honor the legacy, history, and lives of some truly amazing individuals.  What’s more, honorees are nominated by their own peers in the dance community.  Congratulations to all of the 2012 honorees!

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The 2012 Legacy Award Honorees

Norma Dogget-Bezwick – Norma was an original Jack Cole dancer and one of the brides in the 1954 movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

Larry Fuller – Larry choreographed such Broadway musicals as “Sweeney Todd,” “On the Twentieth Century,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “A Doll’s Life,” and “Evita.”

Carol Lawrence – Carol was the original Maria in “West Side Story” on Broadway.  She has performed in such shows as “Kiss of the Spiderwoman,” “Funny Girl,” “Sugar Babies,” “Sweet Charity,” “The Sound of Music,” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

George Marcy – George has worked with some of the greatest directors and choreographers including Jack Cole, Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, Larry Fuller, Agnes De Mille, Gower Champion, Danny Daniels, Joe Layton, Grover Dale, Vincent Minelli, and Cyril Richard.

Lee Roy Reams – The New York Times named Lee Roy “Broadway’s song and dance man nonpareil.”  He performed leading roles on Broadway in shows like “The Producers,” “42nd Street,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hello Dolly!,” “La Cage,” “Oklahoma!,” and “Sweet Charity.”

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Dancers over 40

I met Jonathan Cerullo, membership director of Dancers over 40, at the Business Group Meeting hosted by Career Transition for Dancers.

“Well, I’m not quite ‘over 40,'” I smiled.

As I turned to walk away, Jonathan grabbed my arm, sat me down, and starting talking to me about the organization. He threw out the names of some of my dance idols: Chita Rivera, Jerry Mitchell, Bob Avian…I was hooked.

Dancers Over 40, Inc. was created as a not-for-profit organization to provide a community of support in response to the fiscal — as well as physical – needs of mature dancers, choreographers and related artists. Our goals are to seek educational opportunities, present seminars, socials and panel discussions on topics important to mature dancers concerned about their ability to continue to live and work in a creative environment and continue the legacy to those dancers about to begin their journey.

Don’t let the “age” of the organization’s title deter you – while “Members” indeed must meet the age requirement, “Friends of Dancers over 40” include all ages, dancers and non-dancers. And what better way to celebrate the legacies of older dancers than to share their stories and talents with the younger generation of up-and-coming dancers!

Jonathan and I immediately hit it off, and he invited me to the Dancers over 40 Membership Meeting in September at Characters Restaurant on 54th street. I was honored to attend the meeting, but felt like a high school freshman on my first day of school! My anxiety was quickly relieved (well, sort of!) after I met the John Sefakis, the President of DO40, and he sat me at a table between….Marge Champion and Larry Fuller. I was chatting it up with dance royalty!

The meeting marked the first of the fall season, and laid out a general framework of events and topics for the rest of the year. The evening started with a short introduction from John Sefakis, followed by a few stunning performances by Mary Lou Barber, Joyce Nolen, Patti Mariano, and Tony Sheldon. A couple DO40 members spoke about their newly published books (Christine Fournier’s Gypsy Nights and Harvey Hohnecker Evans’ Our Story – book reviews to come!!). Lastly, board members announced some of the exciting events and performances coming up for the 2012/2012 season – hopefully we’ll see you there!

Upcoming events with Dancers over 40: (All of the events are open to the public).

  • Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Flea Market
    Sunday, Sept. 23, 10am-7pm
    Shubert Alley
  • Balanchine, Broadway and Beyond (film/panel)
    Monday, Oct. 8, 8pm
    St. Luke’s Theater
  • 4th Annual DO40 Legacy Awards and Holiday Party
    Monday, Dec. 10, 6-9pm
    Lips Restaurant
  • **honorees: Carol Lawrence, Lee Roy Reams, Larry Fuller, Norma Doggett-Bezwick, and George Marcy
  • Tap! Part II: The Tapping Continues!
    February, 2013
    St. Luke’s Theater
  • DO40 Cares: The Stories of our Lives…A Song and Dance Concert
    Monday, Apr. 22, 8pm
    The Ailey CitiGroup Theater/Joan Weill Center for Dance

Dancers over 40 is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that celebrates the lives and legacies of dancers and choreographers. To learn more or to get involved with Dancers over 40, visit their website: www.dancersover40.org.