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Robert Abrams
Taj Restaurant & Lounge
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Alegria's 3rd Annual Exhibit of Hope - a benefit to rebuild a children's orchestra at an orphanage in Peru

by Robert Abrams
August 20, 2013
Taj Restaurant & Lounge
48 W 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 620-3033
I attended Alegria's benefit at Taj at the invitation of Talia Castro-Pozo. Alegria is a non-profit that is helping to rebuild the orchestra program La Sagrada Familia, an orphanage in Lima, Peru, whose music program was severely damaged in a recent fire. Alegria supports a variety of arts education programs in Peru, and more recently, in the Bronx as well.

Talia always throws a great party, but this time she and her colleagues outdid themselves. There was lively conversation, a watermelon flavored drink made with Pisco, a Peruvian spirit, great music by Gabriel Alegria and the Afro-Peruvian Sextet and a DJ, and dance. At first I was going to say "of course, dance". This would be true since it was partly Talia's event, but in the context of other benefits, not necessarily. I have been to quite a few benefits where there was great energy, music and the opportunity to dance, but very few people interested in dancing. The Alegria event, by contrast, had performances by World Hustle Champions Kelvin Roche & Lori Ann Greenhouse + Sophie Cazeneuve & Frank Muhel. They were fabulous. But more importantly, there were plenty of people social dancing to a mix of music that was mostly but not entirely Latin. The energy in the space was great both on and off the dance floor. General admission tickets were $65 to $95 per person, with VIP tickets for $175 per person (which included an open bar for most of the night). This is an inexpensive price as NYC benefits go, for a worthy cause with great dancing.

If you are a dancer, definitely add the Alegria benefit to you social calendar. If you are not a dancer, you will have a great time too.

The event also featured raffles, a silent auction, a photo booth and heavenly Peruvian desserts by Cocositta.

The highlight of the night for me was a bit of accidental poetry. Towards the end of the night, my dance partner and I were dancing Salsa in open position (dancing together but apart, separated by about a foot or two). She started to slip. I managed to grab her arm in time to prevent her from falling. At first, I didn't think much of it, except that I was glad I was able to protect her. It is just a normal part of floorcraft, after all. Then I realized that the entire benefit was a similar act of floorcraft. The fire in Peru was like a slip on the dance floor. The world is full of risk, which sometimes we avoid and sometimes we don't. Everyone at the benefit was helping 350 bright kids get back up and keep making art, and through the inspiration of art, have the possibility of making a better world.
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