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On Broadway! - Career Transition for Dancers 23rd Anniversary Jubilee

- Onstage with the Dancers: Special Events

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On Broadway!
A Glittering Salute To the American Musical
Career Transition for Dancers 23rd Anniversary Jubilee

Hosted by Angela Lansbury
(Angela Lansbury Bio)

Sono Osato
Brian Heidtke
Tommy Tune

City Center, NYC

Presented by Rolex
Underwriting: Condé Nast Publications
The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation
Producer and Artistic Director: Anne Marie DeAngelo

Asst. Director: David Warren Gibson
Asst. Producer: Dax Valdes Executive Producer: Alexander J. Dubé
Lighting Designer: Brad Fields
Production Stage Manager: Lori Rosecrans Wekselblatt
Press: KPM Associates, Kevin P. McAnarney
Script: Deborah Grace Winer
Musical Director and Conductor: Jim Morgan
Gala Anniversary Chairs: Anka K. Palitz, Allen Brill

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 27, 2008

(See Dance Rocks Review, October 29, 2007)

Once again, Career Transition for Dancers (CTFD) held its annual Anniversary Jubilee at New York’s City Center, and this year’s theme was On Broadway! This event is predictably buoyant and breathtaking, with the crème de la crème of Broadway song and dance performing excerpts throughout the intermission-less, long evening (The event is followed by a Gala Dinner for Patrons and their guests). CTFD offers counseling, job contacts, housing assistance, and scholarships to professionals in the dance community, representing all forms of dance. They also assist dancers in their next careers, as many retire by 40 or soon after.

ROLEX is the main Sponsor of the CTFD galas, and this year’s Chairs were Anka K. Palitz and Allen Brill, two familiar faces to these festivities. Anne Marie DeAngelo once again produced and directed the show. The Annual Honorees were Sono Osato, Brian Heidtke, and Tommy Tune. Ms. Osato was an American dancer in Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo and Ballet Theatre of the 1940’s. Brian Heidtke is on the American Ballet Theatre Board and actively involved in its diverse programs, as well as in wildlife and theatre funding. Tommy Tune has won nine Tony Awards and eight Drama Desk Awards. Mr. Tune is now working on his new show, “Turn of the Century”.

Angela Lansbury, this year’s Host, appeared after a Film Montage, showing historical film clips in rapid fashion, all dynamic and delightful. Laura Young edited the film, and Anne Marie DeAngelo and JoAnn Young produced it. Ms. Lansbury commented on her double knee and hip replacements, looked great, and even did a little dance later on. This is a woman of class and elegance, and her presence onstage during these Awards and performances was truly a treat. Ms. Lansbury awarded Brian Heidtke his Award, and then Mikhail Baryshnikov awarded Sono Osato hers, with warm welcoming comments about their close relationship.

The evening’s first live performers were Karen Ziemba and Noah Racey in an excerpt from “Crazy for You”, “Shall We Dance?”, choreographed by Susan Stroman to Gershwin’s music. They leapt about, crooned and flirted, opening the show with abandon. What could be better than Gershwin? An ensemble of four followed, Ty Stevens, Randy Davis, Alexander Elisa, and James T. Lane, dancing Leiber and Stoller’s “On Broadway”, the evening’s title tune. Mercedes Ellington staged this driven dance. One of my favorites, an excerpt from “Oklahoma’s” “Dream Ballet”, featured New York Theatre Ballet's Elena Zahlmann as Dream Laurie and Terence Duncan as Dream Curley. They were joined by “Laurie’s Friends” and “Cowboys”, and Agnes de Mille’s choreography dazzled, set to the memorable Rodgers and Hammerstein score.

“Cool”, from “West Side Story”, featured an ensemble of 11, with high leaps and raging motion, to Leonard Bernstein’s music, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, and Jerome Robbins’ choreography. Hearing this tune from the iconic show added to the anticipation of its Broadway revival in 2009. In a sultrier mood, “Manson Trio” from Bob Fosse’s “Pippin” was next, and Bebe Neuwirth, a CTFD Gala regular, danced with David Warren Gibson and Pam Sousa. Their straw hats covered their faces, and their legs moved in unison to Stephen Schwartz’ music and lyrics. Bebe Neuwirth stayed onstage to honor her mentor, Bob Fosse, with generous praise. Fosse choreographed the next two excerpts as well. Such varied anecdotes added to the theme of dance careers and next steps for performers.

Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson appeared next, joined by an ensemble of 11, dancing “Two Lost Souls” from “Damn Yankees”, also choreographed by Bob Fosse. Richard Adler and Jerry Ross wrote music and lyrics, and the duo was riveting. Another preview followed, “Steam Heat” from “Pajama Game”, with Mary MacLeod, Curtis Holbrook, and Alex Sanchez dancing to another Adler and Ross musical, to Fosse’s choreography. When Kelly Bishop took the microphone, to honor Michael Bennett’s “A Chorus Line”, we heard Marvin Hamlisch’s “At the Ballet”. And, lo and behold, two ballets ensued. Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes, of American Ballet Theatre, wowed the audience with the hormonal leaps and spins of Marius Petipa’s “Le Corsaire Pas de Deux”, music by Adolphe Adam. As always (I have seen this duo dance together dozens of times, and never cease to be amazed) Mr. Cornejo executed backward leaps and fast to slow dizzying spins, while Ms. Reyes whisked through her 32 fouettés, all the while fanning herself. For those dance aficionados in the audience seeing them for the first time, it appeared to be an electrifying moment.

A different sort of ballet was next, “Play On!”, with An Nan and Zhu Zhengzhen of Big Apple Circus in acrobatic feats that defied the imagination. Ms. Nan stood on the head of Mr. Zhengzhen and lifted one leg to her head. She also danced on his shoulders and literally en air, as he tossed her toward the rafters. In the Testimonial Segment, Anne Marie DeAngelo introduced Anthony Bryant with the ensemble from the earlier dance, “On Broadway!”. Former dancers, George de la Peña and Mark Baird, spoke on their appreciation to CTFD for assisting them in need, with an added tribute to Meredith Leda. Appropriately, “The Audition” from “42nd Street” followed, featuring Randy Skinner with an ensemble of 19. Gower Champion choreographed this show to Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s music and lyrics.

Tommy Tune received his fancy ROLEX watch next from a breathlessly enthusiastic Brooke Shields, and he recited poetry, sang “‘S Wonderful”, and danced some soft shoe, all in gratitude. Mr. Tune spoke about his long career and his new show in Chicago, that should come to New York in 2009. He then rehearsed the full array of Presenters and Performers in some simple hand motion and “5, 6, 7, 8” steps, closed the curtain, re-opened it, and repeated the Finale. Kudos to Jim Morgan and The Jubilee Orchestra, and kudos to Angela Lansbury and the organizers, presenters, and performers of this 23rd CTFD Anniversary Jubilee.

A Dance Ensemble in "Cool"
from "West Side Story"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

New York Theatre Ballet in excerpt,"Dream Ballet"
from "Oklahoma"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

Noah Racey and Karen Ziemba in "Shall We Dance"
from "Crazy for You"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo, ABT,
in "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

David Warren Gibson, Bebe Neuwirth, Pam Sousa
in "Manson Trio" from "Pippin"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson and Ensemble
in "Two Lost Souls" from "Damn Yankees"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

An Zan and Zhu Zhengzhen from Big Apple Circus
in "Play On!"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

An Zan and Zhu Zhengzhen from Big Apple Circus
in "Play On!"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

CTFD Jubilee Performers and Presenters
in the "Finale"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

Oliver Tickets > Dirty Dancing Tickets > Musical Tickets > Jimmy Carr Tickets >
Peter Kay Tickets > Ricky Gervais Tickets > Theatre Tickets

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at