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Jenny Dalzell on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013
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Everything is beautiful at the ballet, just like Kelly Bishop, the original A Chorus Line Sheila, sang at the Career Transition for Dancers gala last night. But what's often not beautiful—actually, rather frightening—is a dancer's realization that her career is ending and the "Now what?" feeling that she's left with. That's where CTFD comes in, and as we heard from many artists onstage during the show, the counseling the organization provides can really help.
Broadway and Beyond was the name of the event, and the dance numbers in between CTFD testimonials didn't disappoint. The show kicked off with Rosie O'Donnell and NYC teens singing the Damn Yankees anthem, "Heart," soon followed by Broadway Dance Lab's cute and theatrical Doggy in the Window. Tap was a mainstay: Randy Skinner and Sara Brians tapped elegantly—a la Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire—through a stamina-testing routine; DM Award winner Jason Samuels Smith was joined by Jimmy Tate and Dulé Hill in a wowing tribute to Danny Daniels; and the groups Parallel Exit and New York Song & Dance Company banged out rhythms to open and close the night.
Rosie O'Donnell with Rosie's Theater Kids singing "Heart" from Damn Yankees
Actress Lynn Cohen played an amusing Agnes de Mille (a founder of CTFD) in between a few of the acts, though her lines made it seem like we were going to watch de Mille's choreography—which we never did. Instead, Joshua Bergasse created a balletic and compelling On the Town medley, American Repertory Ballet performed the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet, and members of Dresden's Semperoper Ballett danced in David Dawson's Benois de la Danse prize-winning On the Nature of Daylight. (And there was more! These are simply the highlights.)
Liza Minnelli presented the prime Rolex Dance Award to Ann-Margret, who, at 72, is still as gorgeous as ever. After a truly fabulous entrance and joking with Liza, she spoke of her early roots in dance classes with Marjorie Young and was careful to thank the dancers who have supported her throughout her long career. She even managed to sneak a Tommy reference in there, and the audience (and I) went nuts. All in all, the evening was a smorgasbord of song, dance, and theater—a totally triple threat.
Liza Minnelli with Ann-Margret; photo courtesy CTFD.