Every year, dance-world luminaries gather on picturesque Fire Island for the Fire Island Dance Festival, a celebration and fundraiser hosted by Dancers Responding to AIDS. This year, the festival celebrated its 25th anniversary—and more than $6 million raised to help those struggling with AIDS—with a phenomenal lineup (hosted by Cabaret's OG Emcee Joel Grey) including a premiere by Emmy Award nominee Al Blackstone, back for his fourth (!) time.
Blackstone loves being surrounded by the diverse group of artists who participate in the festival—and the always-enthusiastic audience. "You have professional ballet companies, you have Broadway performers, you have dancers from Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey, you have tap dancers. It's magical," he says. "And it's amazing to know that we're raising money to provide assistance to people who really need it." Another highlight: setting choreography for the festival's outdoor stage. "One of the shows takes place at sunset, and it's the most beautiful thing," he says. "When I'm making the work, I'm always thinking about what it's going to look like in front of the sky."
A version of this story appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Fire Island Dance Festival Turns 25."