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By Kina Poon
If dance companies are families, as it’s often said, the benefit concerts helmed by Dancers Responding to AIDS are like giant weddings. “It’s a community experience, a moment where all these different kinds of artists come together as one company,” says Denise Roberts Hurlin, founding director of DRA, which produces the wildly successful Fire Island Dance Festival, among other galas. “We are really fortunate that the dance community is so generous and compassionate.”
A program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, DRA launches its latest event, the Hudson Valley Dance Festival, on October 12 at Historic Catskill Point, a 19th-century warehouse on the edge of the Hudson River, in Catskill, NY. The bill includes a DRA-sponsored duet by Marcelo Gomes for fellow ABT dancers Jessica Saund and Thomas Forster; a duet from Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature (she was introduced to two of the choreographers with whom she has collaborated on a shared DRA evening); and works danced by Evidence, A Dance Company and Stephen Petronio Company. The latter two will show longer portions of their work—20-some-minute excerpts rather than the usual 5- to 7- minute segments. “This community is in such a culturally rich area,” says Roberts Hurlin, referring to the strong visual art tradition in the Hudson Valley. “We’re extending that and doing something a little different. It will offer a little more depth as to what their work is about.”
DRA’s other programs, including onstage audience appeals by artists in venues across New York City, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for over 450 national AIDS and family service organizations. With the large number of NYC-based companies and theaters involved, Roberts Hurlin hopes that the audience appeals will expand to reach dance fans across America. She also underscores another dimension to DRA’s work—helping to provide free health services directly to professional artists through the Actors Fund. See
www.dradance.org for more information.
Pictured: Stephen Petronio Company at FIDF, 2010; Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy DRA