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A festive 20th for career transitions.

It's impossible to settle on the most enjoyable afterimage from Career Transition For Dancers 20th anniversary gala, That's Entertainment. Was it the mix couple undulating while their feet were affixed to skis? A shirtless Desmond Richardson in Dwight Rhoden's Showman's Groove? The slippery hips of eight mambo dancing couples? Paloma Herrera and Jose Manuel Carrefio in the virtuosic coda of the Paquita pas de deux? Or was it Virgile Peyramaure and Andrey Mantchev of Big Apple Circus showing us just how hard it is to move from a supine to standing position, while holding another human being headfirst in the palm of your hand?

Liza Minnelli hosted the evening in October at New York's City Center, a benefit to support dancers preparing for apres-stage careers. Cynthia Gregory, Sandy Duncan, Malcolm McDowell, Jerry Mitchell, and Marge Champion each took a turn behind the podium. Bebe Neuwirth brought her sly and snazzy style to Fosse's "All that Jazz," Mercedes Ellington vied for best chapeau with a glorious nest of feathers atop her head. "I know you were all afraid I was going to sit in front of you," she quipped.

The Career Transition For Dancers Awards went to The Harkness Foundation for Dance and to patron Lewis S. Ranieri, chairman of the American Ballet Theatre Board of Trustees. Last year's CTFD awardee, Patricia J. Kennedy, made a fashion statement in her satin-bowed and tufted floor-length gown, when she bestowed The Rolex Dance Award on Joffrey Ballet artistic director Gerald Arpino. During his acceptance speech, he waxed nostalgic and said City Center felt like home to him.

Between the awards and powerhouse performances, Cynthia Gregory invited onstage five former dancers with CTFD success stories to take a bow. Broadway dancer Dan Grady earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and is in private practice. ABT principal dancer Christine Dunham's interest in fashion led her into sales at Chanel. Mark Hunter Hall got a masters degree in physical therapy and now treats his former Broadway colleagues. Allysa Dodson once danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company and Pilobolus, and now practices Structural Integration. Elizabeth Carr went from ABT to nursing school and works in intensive care. These five and the others they represent were the true stars of the evening.
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Title Annotation:career transition for dancers 20th anniversary gala, That's Entertainment
Author:Hildebrand, Karen
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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