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Shall We Dance - A Tribute to Richard Rodgers, a review by Robert Abrams

by Robert Abrams
October 21, 2002
New York, NY

Shall We Dance - A Tribute to Richard Rodgers

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 Robert Abrams
October 21, 2002

Career Transitions For Dancers presented their annual gala with a strong and diverse cast of performers, all of whom donated their time and talent to this important organization. If you were there, you undoubtedly enjoyed the show. If you weren't there, here are a few notes on the performances to give you a tease so you will consider buying a ticket to next year's gala.

Shall we Dance?, from the King and I
The National Dance Institute Celebration Team presented dance which offered an escape from the indignities and noise of everyday life in the city. They danced a balletic Broadway dance number with a Polka interlude.

Pas de Deux, set to music from Carousel
The American Ballet Theatre, Sandra Brown and Isaac Stappas, showed that dance can perform in the service of narrative, as it often did in Mr. Rodgers' shows. They were an emotional balletic pairing.

Excerpts from Moon, danced to Blue Moon
Jennifer Muller/The Works (Susanna Bozzetti, Rosane Fonteyne, Tracy Kofford, Kuo Chi-Tsung, Siobhain Mosley, Pascal Rekoert, Kanji Segawa, Stephanie Tack, Yumiko Yoshikawa) offered up a fluid mix of ballet, modern and partner dance - with a dash of rueda and humor.

No Other, Beneath the Southern Cross from Victory at Sea
The San Francisco Ballet (Lorena Feijoo and Damian Smith) showed us a ballet with Astaire-like elegance. Their turn combinations had exceptional poise and line.

Ten Cents a Dance, from Simon Simple
Sandy Duncan sang this well known song with power and wit. She was partnered in dramatic fashion by Don Correia and Guy Stroman who gave a brilliantly accurate and humorous depiction of bad partner dance technique. They were so good at being bad that one almost couldn't tell it was an act. At the end of the dance, Ms. Duncan got the upper altitude on some nicely executed lifts, proving that both Ms. Duncan and her partners can hold their own on the dance floor.

Ghost Town, originally performed by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
The Ohio Ballet dancers (Mary Beth Hanson and Damien Highfield) were playful and continuously flowing. He carried her like she was a wave. This ballet also had a Gene Kelly like passage that was danced with affection.

The Sweetest Sounds, from No Strings
Karen Ziemba, Melanie LaPatin and Tony Meredith danced an elegantly stylized International Rumba.

All Dark People, from Babes in Arms
Wendee Lee Curtis, Karen Callaway Williams, and the New Jersey Tap Ensemble Teen Rep tapped out a sensitive and exuberant updating of a forgotten gem. They were able to raise up the dignity that lies contained within the ambiguities of the past.

My Funny Valentine, from Babes in Arms
The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (Sandra Brown and Marcelo Gomes) danced a ballet of languorous interchange where the woman was often effortlessly draped across the man.

Excerpt from Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, from On Your Toes
The New York City Ballet (Damian Woetzel, Maria Kowroski) presented a clearly Broadway style dance number. Maria has legs up to there, as they used to say, especially when she kicks.

You'll Never Walk Alone, from Carousel
La Chanze sang and AntiGravity (Mam Smith) danced like a wisp suspended from a hammock. Someone sitting next to me whispered to his companion, "That's dangerous." It is only dangerous if she falls, which even when she was suspended high above the City Center stage by what appeared to be a thread or perhaps just the friction of a little silk, there was never any doubt of her safety, such was her poise. She was truly ethereal. And the singer was spectacular too.

The evening ended with all of the dancers dancing after the bows, much reminiscent of Momix, as if to say, "the curtain may come down, but the dance goes on."

And that after all, is the purpose of the Career Transitions For Dancers organization (CTFD): to remind dancers that they can have a productive life after they retire from performing professionally, and that even then, the essence of the dancer they have always been lives on within them. CTFD exists to help dancers find the strength and the way to keep their dance alive. Or to paraphrase a Ballroom saying, "There is no such thing as a failure in dance, most so-called failures are just new steps we haven't recognized yet." Or as Ann Reinking said after being presented with The Rolex Dance Award, "dance expresses the human spirit." Whether that expression is a ballerina studying for a physics exam, or learning to teach dance to others - or, dare we suggest it, writing articles for ExploreDance.com, CTFD is there to help dancers find and renew their own human spirit.


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

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