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Bonnie Rosenstock
Dance New York
Dance Performance Galas
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Peridance Annual Gala, Celebrating 32 Years of All Things Dance

by Bonnie Rosenstock
July 21, 2015
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU
566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Sq South)
New York, NY 10012
Igal Perry, founder and artistic director of Peridance Capezio Center, sure knows how to throw a Gala. This being the school's 32nd anniversary, he has had a lot of experience in All Things Dance. But he also has a deep well of talent to draw from. For this fete, held at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the school regaled us with a dozen dances, featuring dancers, teachers and choreographers from its diverse programs and partnerships. The occasion also honored Graciela Kozak, who has taught and mentored students at Peridance for 30 years.

The performers, from the adorable, well-disciplined children in tutus to the tweens, teens and professionals, lit up the stage. The Peridance Pre-Professional Training Program, consisting of four tiers of study according to age (from 7 to 14) performed an outstanding large-cast ensemble of excerpts from "Sleeping Beauty." Students from the Peridance Certificate Program Ballet/Contemporary Track performed "A Howl," choreographed by Cindy Salgado, and the program's Commercial Track offered up a rousing "Star Crackout," choreographed by Josephine Remy.

The stellar Peridance Contemporary Dance Company performed two of Perry's lovely lyrical works, "Masquerade into the Night," with music by Johann Strauss II, and an excerpt from his most recent "Thundering Silence." Perry himself took a dance turn in a tango duet, "Pièce D'occasion," with ballroom world champion Andrew Phillips, which they co-choreographed.

The Peridance Youth Ensemble performed a well-executed "Stick Up," choreographed by Cheryl Copeland, the Certificate Program Director. PYE, founded in 2000, is a pre-professional training program, by audition, for burgeoning dancers, ages 14 to 18, as well as a non-profit outreach youth dance company that mentors and teaches workshops to at-risk youth.

"Like a Boy," a dazzling hip-hop number, courtesy of RKDance, choreographed by faculty member RK Davis (hip-hop/House/street styles), gave us strong female attitude, showing what for in a man's world. "Uptown Funk," choreographed by Shelley K. Grantham and performed by the students from The Peridance School and Peridance Youth Ensemble, blew everyone away with their tumbles, turns, flips and masterful movements. Grantham has been The School at Peridance Coordinator since 1999, in addition to Director of the Peridance Youth Ensemble and Coordinator of all Peridance Outreach Programs.

Peridance's partners also shone. Five students from the Djoniba Dance Centre, did an earthy West-African dance, accompanied by Pablo and Aboubacar on drums. Baila Society's "Gitana," was a sizzling, spicy number for four couples. And Logan Frances Kruger from the Limón Dance Company danced a soulful solo, an excerpt from "Mazurkas/Posthumous in A minor," choreographed by José Limón with music by Chopin.

Perry praised Kozak, the guest of honor, as "a unique and gifted teacher." He and Deborah Damast, President of the New York State Dance Education Association and Peridance board member, presented Kozak with an engraved Executive Crystal Award paying tribute to her contribution of 30 years to the dance community, and "sharing love of dance with us," she added.

Kozak, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, thanked Perry for giving her a break and "for keeping me employed," she joked. Kozak was a soloist with the Bat-Dor and Batsheva Dance companies in Israel from 1975 to 1985. After coming to New York in 1985, she joined the Peridance Ensemble (forerunner of the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company) and the faculty. She has also been on the faculty of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 2002 and has been a guest teacher for the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Batsheva Dance Company.

She said, "Peridance feels like a second home. Dance has been an inseparable part of my life since the age of four. Teaching dance is like being an architect of movement in space." Kozak continues to teach ballet there six days a week. Her classes are for dancers of all backgrounds and emphasize the prevention of injuries through correct alignment.

Peridance Capezio Center is located at 126 East 13th Street, New York, NY 10003. Telephone: 212-505-0886. For more information about the programs and classes, go to www.peridance.com.
Graciela Kozak with Igal Perry after receiving the Executive Crystal Award for 30 years of contribution to the dance community. Photo courtesy of Peridance Capezio Center.

Graciela Kozak with Igal Perry after receiving the Executive Crystal Award for 30 years of contribution to the dance community. Photo courtesy of Peridance Capezio Center.

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