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Helping hands, helping feet.

In a show of strength and compassion last winter, dancers joined forces for two separate events to aid victims of the devastating December tsunami in Southeast Asia. On February 11, fundraisers for victims of the catastrophe took place in New York and Atlanta. Though separately conceived and produced, both events reflected the collaborative generosity of the dance world.

Three New York studios--Dance Space Center, Broadway Dance Center, and Steps on Broadway--presented "Wave of Humanity," underwriting the production expenses. All proceeds go to the relief organization Action Against Hunger (www.actionagainsthunger.org).

Co-produced by MiRi Park and Alberto Denis, the event was held at Dance Space Center's future home on lower Broadway near City Hall, due to open this summer. Jerry-rigged fixtures illuminated the raw. space, which has double skylights. The eight-hour-plus marathon included four blocks of performances, with 40 scheduled dances, curated by cognoscenti such as Pepatian (Merian Soto and Pepon Osorio) and Danspace Project's Laurie Uprichard. The tone of the presentations skewed toward the elegiac, and the dances ranged from Ezra Caldwell's hypnotic post-modern tango to a "happening" by Miguel Gutierrez.

Park remarked, "We wanted to make this event about the New York City dance community's response to the tsunami's aftermath and that's why we opened it up to all the participating organizations. Their response was instantaneous." Daman Harun, a choreographer and dancer, paused to reflect. "It meant a lot to me because I'm from Malaysia and we're one of the affected countries. It's fantastic when people come together to make this kind of evening to raise and donate money for a very, good cause."

Georgia Ballet members Angela Harris and Micki Weiner conceived and co-produced the Atlanta benefit. Members of The Georgia Ballet, Ballethnic Dance Company, Zoetic Dance Ensemble, Atlanta Festival Ballet, and Ray Hall Dance Ensemble performed to raise funds for the Samaritan Children's Home in Navalady, Sri Lanka, where the orphanage's missionary managed to evacuate all of the home's children.

The fundraiser allowed dance to assert its vibrant role in the Atlanta community and laid groundwork for future support, with local businesses donating goods for a silent auction. "This collaboration of business and arts is a definite positive for the future of dance in Atlanta," said Harris. Area dance students raised money at dance studios and volunteered at the benefit. Harris added, "We have had enormous support from these young dancers, and their contributions and support have actually been vital."

Park's energy is clearly infectious (she is a dancer and the 2004 World Air Guitar Champion). She observed, "I hope we can get the message to people in the affected countries that dancers from the other side of the planet are doing what we can to shine some light onto a dark time." At presstime it was reported that "Wave of Humanity" raised $5,000 and "Artists for Humanity" raised more than $3,500.
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Title Annotation:Dancers raised money for the victims of tsunami
Author:Yung, Susan
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:478
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