On January 12, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The disaster killed roughly 200,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more without food, water or shelter.
As celebrities rallied to raise money for Haitian relief efforts with the star-studded “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” telethon, dancers across the nation jumped on board to help as well.
The Broadway world was represented by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which made a $100,000 donation to UNICEF. Luis Salgado (In the Heights) and Gabriela Garcia (Chicago) participated in the six-hour “Abracemos a Haiti” (“Let’s Embrace Haiti”) telethon, raising more than $3 million. Salgado latched on to this cause because it hits close to home: He hails from Puerto Rico, not far from Haiti. “I am thrilled the artistic community is making such an impact,” he says. “This makes you remember the power artists have.” Meanwhile, Rock of Ages cast members held an auction on Twitter that brought in several thousand dollars. The highest bidder won a backstage tour, drinks with the cast and a cameo in the upcoming Rock of Ages film.
Studios also joined the cause. After Broadway Dance Center’s executive director, Diane King, made a personal donation to the Haiti relief efforts, she wanted to do more. “I thought, we have this studio and these students coming in to do what they love,” she says. “How can we turn it into something where we can raise funds to support Haiti?” So, just days after the earthquake, BDC began offering classes to raise money for The Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund. Popular teachers, including Sheila Barker, Michelle Dorrance and David Marquez, all taught additional weekday classes—some starting as late as 10:30 pm—and donated the class fees to The Red Cross. In just one week, the studio raised $3,000; it has a long-term goal of donating $10,000.
Just a few blocks away in NYC, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center hosted a dance benefit for Haiti featuring performances by New York City Ballet’s Wendy Whelan, Robert Fairchild, Daniel Ulbricht, Megan Fairchild and Teresa Reichlen. And on the opposite coast, crews including The Beat Freaks (DS January 2010), Fanny Pak and SuperCr3w performed at The Carnival’s “Choreographer’s Ball” 11th anniversary celebration, where a portion of the night’s proceeds went to UNICEF.
Swing dancers also joined in, organizing “Hop for Haiti,” an event that included raffles, silent auctions, bake sales and, of course, plenty of swing dancing. Nine cities, from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, WA, participated in the event, which donated its proceeds to Doctors Without Borders.
If you’ve done something to support Haiti, we want to know! Go to dancespirit.com/ and click on “Talk to Us” to share your story.