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Amber Henrie
Performance Reviews
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New York City Center
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New York, NY

"AMERICA DANCES! Celebrating Our Sparkling Heritage – Broadway, TV & Film"- Dedicated to Patrick Swayze

by Amber Henrie
November 2, 2009
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019

Featured Dance Company:

New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet (office)
New York State Theater
20 Lincoln Center
New York, NY 10023

Career Transition For Dancers' 24th Anniversary Jubilee, which took place on November 2, 2009 at New York City Center, favorably represented the organization's mission - enabling dancers to define their career possibilities and develop the skills necessary to excel in a variety of disciplines.

Starting the night, a film montage of America's great dance innovators; namely Fred Astaire, Alvin Ailey, Isadora Duncan and Michael Jackson, set the mood for appreciating the eclectic nature of dance. Featuring industry celebrities Samuel Ramey of the Metropolitan Opera, Tony Award winning actress Laura Benanti and Emmy Award winner Valerie Harper, the audience was treated to a rare blend of dance heritage.

New York City Ballet's opening number, Stars and Stripes Pas de Duex, choreographed by George Balanchine, took on new significance after introduced by Jacques D'Ambroise, who danced the original role. He shared a comical story explaining changes to the male solo as a result of last minute "muscle crap choreography" while on tour in California. A sheepish D'Ambroise was flabbergasted when Balanchine, whose choreography is rarely changed, liked the last minute changes and told him to "keep doing it that way."

The evening also highlighted original choreography from Isadora Duncan and Bob Fosse. Up and coming choreographers and dance companies highlighted throughout the night spoke to the mission of Career Transition For Dancers.

Stand outs of the evening were dancers Jason Kittelberger and Acacia Schachte from Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet who danced with intense passion and strength as they portrayed the "cold" battle of love and pain in a stunningly fluid Cold Song pas de deux. Ballroom dancers Alexandra Gutkovitch (10-year old) & John Gaylan (14-year old) stunned the audience with their snappy, sharp and playful cha cha. Their lines were dynamic, their performance fierce, and their choreography was sexy yet age appropriate. They have a great future ahead of them. Lombard Twins, Martin and Facundo, brought the audience a unique mix of Argentine tango and hip hop. The intricacies of their footwork, body and arms mixed with their intensity made this brother act one of the best performances of the evening.

Celebration galas provide the opportunity to honor the dance community and the influencers that make the continuation of the arts possible. The 24th Jubilee honored Lawrence Herbert (founder of Pantone, Inc.), Lloyd E. Rigler (founder of the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation), and Patrick Swayze for their outstanding contributions to the world of dance. Lisa Niemi Swayzes' heartfelt acceptance speech for her late husband, unlocked the audience's love. Reminiscing of tales about Patrick dancing before he was born and his love for dance, she declared Patrick is "dancing with the angels."

The one-night event was an exceptional tribute to patrons supportive of dancers and performers sharing their talents; all too often for only a period of time in their lives before having to transition into additional careers.
Swayze at the CTFD 2009 Gala Show

Swayze at the CTFD 2009 Gala Show

Photo © & courtesy of Richard Termine

Alexandra and John at the CTFD 2009 Gala Show

Alexandra and John at the CTFD 2009 Gala Show

Photo © & courtesy of Richard Termine

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