Sunday, January 2, 2011

Homage to Dancers

Here is the "Homage to Dancers" segment from the 2010 Career Transition for Dancers Gala, which I directed.  The script is just a guide to more or less what we all said, in the order we spoke.  -AMD

Ann Marie DeAngelo

ANN MARIE DeANGELO:  I want to thank all the artists performing here tonight for their time, talent and devotion to our dancer cause.  As dancers we share a common spirt - that stays alive in us, even when we move on.  We also share common struggles - simple things - like finding the courage to actual speak with our voices and not our bodies; how to replace the immediate gratification of performing (no one applauds a phone call).  We have lots and lots of challenges even though it is what we did for love.  Which reminds me......Last year after this event Marvin Hamlisch called to congratulate me on the show and wanted to use some talent on the program, and I thought it was a prank call because he didn’t say, "So-and-so gave me your number."  Then when I realized it wasn’t I got up the courage to say, “You know, A Chorus Line is a brilliant classic and about many things but mostly it’s about dancers trying to get into a show. What about a piece about about the trajectory of what happens after -  some dancers stay in the field, some move out of the field, some don’t stop - but whatever we do we never stop being dancers.  The dancer stays alive in us always..."

Here are some dancers and former dancers, CTFD clients and supporters, who will share a few words on feelings about their "Act 2."

From our first step to our last breath, dance is a powerful force within us. It encourages us to be “all” that we can be in life.  I always come from my power source—my dancer—when starting a new theater project, or when having a gallery opening for my paintings.  Thank-you CTFD -  the L.A. office for your support—and recognition of this life force.


I moved from dancer, to director, to founder of the National Choreography Initiative—that gives opportunities to dancers who stay in the field. And as a teacher at the University of California at Irvine, I supported a study on Career Transition for Dancers that has raised awareness in the college arena.  Just passing it on!
A few years ago, Gregory Hines received the CTFD Award.  Gregory was an inspiration.  When he was on the board of the American Tap Dance Foundation, where I’m Artistic Director, he helped us carry on the legacy of concert tap dance.  As teachers or directors, the dancer in us stays alive when we pass on what we know...
My safe space was always in a dance studio, the place that’s mine where I can create and organize and be dedicated to my dreams. CTFD gave me the confidence to create an annual dance festival and educational program for the Stamford Center for the Arts.  In turn, I’ve created a safe place that encourages the dreams of our youth.

I’m Rick Lake, competition ballroom dancer—and hedge fund guy.  Ballroom dance brings the joy of dance to everyone—even financial types.  I’ve been a supporter of the CTFD gala over the years.  What a wonderful way to give back to the world of dance, that brings so much joy to so many.

I learned from CTFD that you don’t have to give it up all at once.  You can dance while setting a new direction. Twice, I’ve gone back for CTFD career counseling.  Now, I have a successful healing and wellness practice.  And I’m still dancing!   As a dancer, I understand what people are feeling—and this led to my healing and wellness practice.

When I received an educational grant from CTFD, I was still learning choreography on Broadway.  I then earned a Master’s degree, and entered the counseling field.  It all came full circle when I became a CTFD counselor.  Now I travel around the country with CTFD’s National Outreach Program, empowering dancers to choreograph their future—just as I did.

I know CTFD helps dancers when they stop performing, but no one told me to stop!  I’m still dancing.   Even my dance injuries can have a silver lining.  My knee replacement inspired me with the next choreography idea.  Actually, dance empowers me to support organizations like the Duke Ellington Foundation, and as a Board member of CTFD for years.

I first went to CTFD meetings as a soloist with New York City Ballet.  The idea of a dancer being vocal, or preparing for a transition was a scary concept.  CTFD let us know it was OK to plan seriously about the future. After graduating from Brown University, I realized I could translate the knowledge and mental skills I accumulated as a dancer into other disciplines.  It really works!

When I performed, I felt I had strings of energy connecting me to heaven and to the audience. Today, I coach dancers, and help them find their own powerful connections.  As chairman of CTFD in the 90’s, I believe I helped to connect the growing organization with new, generous and dedicated donors, and countless dancers in need of our wonderful connecting services.  To me, it’s all about connecting.

ANN MARIE DeANGELO:  And so we spend a live time molding our instruments so we can be a part of the magic of theater. And inherent....or actually, the alchemy of magic is to turn fear into belief.  CTFD dispels that fear.  Lets fact it, the scariest thing for anyone is to NOT see a future, and the mission of Career Transition for Dancers is to connect dancers to their futures.

I am a dancer dancing when I’m moving or not, I am a dancer dancing even when I stop.

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