The Top 5 Moments from the Career Transition for Dancers Gala

Every year, Career Transition for Dancers—that fantastic organization that helps pro dancers figure out their post-dance lives—puts on a wonderfully over-the-top, star-studded gala. Attending it has become one of my favorite DS editor perks, because it's always so darn joyful—it's all about dancers celebrating dancers. Last night's gala show was a smorgasbord of awesome performances and touching tributes. Here are my top five highlights:

5. A ton of people did a delightfully schmancy take on the Shim Sham. To kick (or tap, rather) off last night's festivities, the American Tap Dance Foundation gathered a stageful of tappers, young and old, to perform a dressed-up version of the classic routine. It was really moving, actually—a tradition being passed from one generation to the next, right before our eyes.

4. The Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers proved they could get down—in pointe shoes. The company's gorgeous classical dancers got in touch with their funkier sides in an excerpt from Robert Garland's Return, set to the music of James Brown. The only thing better than beautiful ballet technique is beautiful ballet technique mixed with the Mashed Potato.

3. There was a Rockette alumni kickline, and it was glorious. 14 lovely former Rockettes reunited to accompany Broadway legend Karen Ziemba's performance of "I Wanna Be a Rockette." (The group included our friend Amanda Kloots-Larsen.) Naturally, it was leg heaven. Once a Rockette, always a Rockette!

2. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Kirven Douthit-Boyd showed off his insane body control. He performed Takademe, choreographed by Robert Battle—a tour-de-force solo that's basically a visual illustration of its intricate, spoken-word Indian Kathak score, matching every single syllable with a gesture. And, um, there are a LOT of syllables. Douthit-Boyd had the audience erupting in spontaneous cheers throughout his performance—he was that unbelievable.

Douthit-Boyd in Takademe (photo by Paul Kolnik)

1. Angela Lansbury received the Rolex Dance Award, and we all decided to be Angela Lansbury when we grow up. Mrs. Potts is, unsurprisingly, the class act to end all class acts. Though she isn't really known for her dance skills per se, her acceptance speech was a lovely, heartfelt tribute to dancers and former dancers. And then she gave us some Fosse kick action on her way offstage, and our hearts melted into happy little puddles. (Also, fellow theater legend James Earl Jones presented her award, which, THAT VOICE.)

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Enter the World of the Knicks City Dancers with 2 of Their Newest Rookies

Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer


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