The Best Moments from Last Night's NYCDAF "Bright Lights Shining Stars" Gala
The annual New York City Dance Alliance Foundation fundraising gala, "Bright Lights Shining Stars," is usually a star-studded affair. But last night's 2017 event proved to be extra epic, thanks to tons of superb performances and appearances by some of Broadway's best—and most legendary—dancers.
The evening, held as a fundraiser for NYCDAF's college scholarship mission, honored the famed Broadway and Fosse icon Ann Reinking and her lifetime achievements. If you're not familiar, Reinking is a literal 👑 , who was known for her superb lines and luxuriously long legs. She had a long, illustrious career on the Great White Way dancing in productions like Pippin, Cabaret, Chicago, and Sweet Charity and scoring four Tony Award noms, including Best Choreography for a Musical for the Chicago revival she spearheaded and Best Director of a Musical for Fosse.
So, for Broadway nerds like us, the night was a whirlwind of classic Fosse goodness, once-in-a-lifetime performances, and pinch-me moments: Andy Blankenbuehler gave a few opening remarks, former Dance Spirit covergirl Eloise Kropp danced and sang, Chicago heavyweights Dylis Croman and Amra-Faye Wright performed Chicago's "Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag," Reinking's theater friends like Chita Rivera and Bebe Neuwirth gave sweet and emotional tributes, and dancers from the original production of Fosse reunited to perform the show's "I Wanna Be a Dancin' Man." And then, to top it all off, Reinking delivered a super moving, inspirational acceptance speech that reminded us why we love dance so much in the first place.
And, per usual, there were lots of good, old NYCDA moments on hand, as well, like a cool piece choreographed by Joey Dowling featuring every single dancer who was awarded a college scholarship from the foundation this year.
Talk about a special night.
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
If you've ever seen a Janelle Ginestra class video, you know how lit her combos are. What you don't see in those clips is how devoted Ginestra is to her students. We went behind the scenes at one of her sold-out IMMA SPACE classes to see Ginestra in her element, mentoring some of L.A.'s most talented dancers. It was an inspiration feedback loop.
All photos by Joe Toreno.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I love ballet, and I've been told that I have a lot of potential. I can see myself dancing professionally one day. But I'm also working toward my black belt in karate—and I'm passionate about that, too. How can I keep up my technique while also making time for the other things I love? Is that even possible?
What do you get when you combine a Beyoncé anthem, fierce girls from all over the world, and choreography by legends like Ellenore Scott and Lamar Lee? You get the epic music video below. The viral video features little girls who live everywhere from Tanzania to Washington D.C. dancing and lip-syncing to Queen Bey's song "Freedom," and the result is electrifying. These littles can dance—and they bring a determination and enthusiasm to their movement that's truly inspiring.