Walter’s World: Ailey At The Apollo- Spring Benefit Gala

May 5, 2011

By Walter Rutledge On May 3rd, Ailey At The Apollo, the spring benefit gala, returned to Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theater. This one-night-only event featured performances by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II and students of the Ailey School. The evening also honored longtime Ailey supporter and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Guido Goldman, PhD. The red carpet was rolled out under the Apollo marquee and the guests posed for photographs and mingled before being ushered into the theater. One of the best parts of the evening is seeing so many dance enthusiasts from all areas of the arts. All of them were there for an important cause, to assist the Ailey Foundation in sharing the gift of dance with deserving young people in the New York City Area. Many of the programs build more than dancers they build self-esteem, which is the first building block towards good citizenship. With self-esteem one develops self-respect, which leads to self-reliance, and this creates a healthy community with productive citizens. I have seen first hand the uncontainable joy from accomplishment on a young persons face when they finally master a step, or a movement. At that moment they are invincible- there are no boundaries or limitations. Founder Alvin Ailey understood the importance of sharing the gift of dance with everyone who wants to experience movement. Dance education has always been part of his legacy and a cornerstone of his organization. In a year where budgets are being slashed and arts funding is threatened the Ailey organization was able to raise $760,000.00. These funds will be used to support the many year-round arts programs including the AileyCamp in Washington Heights, which is celebrating twenty-two years of community service. [youtube] It also further speaks volumes about the resolve and commitment of the Ailey Board of Directors and Artistic Director Judith Jamison. Honoree Guido Goldman has been part of that commitment and resolve for more than twenty years. He was a patron of the arts prior to his involvement with the Ailey, but his pride in his role with the organization was evident. Five one-year scholarships supporting full time students were made possible from donations by: Daria L. Foster, Stephen J. Meringoff, Celia and Henry McGee (President of the Board of Trustees), Joan (Chairman of the Board of Trustees) and Sandy Weill, and last year’s honorees Pamela Zilly and John Schaefer (Vice Chairmen of the Board of Trustees). The scholarships will assist five aspiring dancers make their dreams come true. These gifts also help preserve the nurturing environment provided by the Ailey organization; which is essential for the most talented young artists to advance from the Ailey School, to Ailey II, and eventually to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Following the intermission Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle charmed the audience with his introduction of the Honorary Chair, actor Courtney B. Vance. Battle’s self-assured and confident demeanor was a further indication that he is ready to direct Ailey into a new era. Ailey’s masterwork Revelations closed the evening with a cast that included students, Ailey II, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. After the performance the evening’s festivities continued with dinner and dancing in a tent behind the Apollo. DJ Ruckus got the crowd moving and grooving under the Studio 54 mirror ball. The event was a resounding success for a very worthy cause. In Photo 1) Gala Logo 2) AileyCamp Washington Heights 3) Judith Jamison and Guido Goldman 4) Robert Battle, Judith Jamison, Courtney B. Lance 5) Gala Reception Photos By: 2) Cara Sipprelle 3&4) Teri Bloom 5) Jacqueline Mcmenamin

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