"I'm dancing for my mother; performing for a cure." Those were the words that began Dance Against Cancer's 5th annual benefit on Monday night, before New York City Ballet principal Maria Kowroski took center stage. While brief, her performance of George Balanchine's Mozartiana (an excerpt) left barely a dry eye in the theater—including a grieving Kowroski herself.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's rehearsal director Matthew Rushing paid tribute to the late Denise Jefferson (Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
Kowroski, however, wasn't the only artist onstage whose family had been affected by cancer. Almost all the dancers—more than 50 in total—named a loved one who'd left the world too soon, and to whom they'd dedicate their performance. Dance Against Cancer producers Daniel Ulbricht and Erin Fogarty also have personal ties to the cause. Fogarty's father passed away in 2011 from colon cancer; Ulbricht's mother is living with uterine cancer. And while all the dancers who performed were some of the most incredible in the world, their performances were further heightened by the intention and dedication behind them.
Erin Fogarty and Daniel Ulbricht at Dance Against Cancer (Photo by Kyra Neeley, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
Not all of the evening was solemn in tone—many of the performances, like NYCB principal Robert Fairchild's rendition of Gene Kelly's Ballin' in the Jack, were a celebration of life and its joys. Futhermore, the benefit was a phenomenal success: Over the last five years, Dance Against Cancer has raised more than $550,000 for the American Cancer Society, and this year alone raised more than $243,000. The money aids in funding Hope Lodges across the country, which provide housing for families receiving outpatient treatment away from home.
Take a look at some more photographs from the event below, and visit Dance Against Cancer's 2015 event page to learn more or make a donation.
NYCB principal Robert Fairchild in Gene Kelly's Ballin in the Jack (Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
American Ballet Theatre soloist Stella Abrera with former ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky in Antony Tudor's Leaves Are Fading (Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
NYCB principals Tyler Angle and Tiler Peck in Christopher Wheeldon's This Bitter Earth (Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
ABT corps member Skylar Brandt with Boston Ballet principal Jeffrey Cirio in Vasily Vainonen's Flames of Paris (Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
ABT principal Herman Cornejo with Carrie Walsh in Cornejo's Two Sunsets (Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
Pennsylvania Ballet principal Lauren Fadeley and soloist James Ihde in Wheeldon's Polyphonia (Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima, courtesy Michelle Tabnick Communications)
This year's Dance Against Cancer poster features an original drawing by artist Keith Haring.
A dance gala is always a good thing. But an impressively star-studded dance gala for a very important cause? It doesn't really get better than that.
The third annual Dance Against Cancer benefit, hosted by the American Cancer Society and produced by Erin Fogarty and New York City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht, will be held on May 6 in NYC. Like the last two galas, it'll feature performances by some of the dance world's best and brightest, many of whom have personal connections to the cause.
And I do mean best and brightest. The lineup is incredible: NYCB’s Maria Kowroski, Wendy Whelan, Tiler Peck, Lauren Lovette, Robert Fairchild, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia and Daniel Ulbricht; American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Alicia Graf Mack and Matthew Rushing; Martha Graham Dance Company’s Katherine Crockett and Lloyd Knight; and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company's Clifton Brown and Attila Csiki. There'll also be a special sneak peek at Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella, performed by San Francisco Ballet's Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada, and world premieres danced by Lil' Buck and ABT's Herman Cornejo.
Watch this beautiful, touching video describing Dance Against Cancer and its mission, with testimonials from many of the dancers who'll be performing at the gala. Then click here to find out more about the show and buy tickets. (Not in NYC? There's also an option to simply donate to the American Cancer Society.)