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28th Annual Fred And Adele Astaire Awards Honoring Excellence In Dance

Originally Posted: April 25, 2010

Honoree Kenny Ortega with cast of High School Musical. (alchmyst.com)

New York City - The Fred and Adele Astaire Awards will once again recognize excellence in dance on both stage and film. This year's Awards gala will take place June 7 at the Gerald Lynch Theater at John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue (between 58th and 59th Streets, New York City). The gala evening will begin with a VIP cocktail reception at 6 p.m. with the Awards Presentation and Show at 7:30 p.m. This year's awards will benefit Career Transitions for Dancers; now celebrating 25 years of helping thousands of dancers across the country take their first steps towards a rewarding post-performance career.

Bruce Michael, Honorary Co-Chair.

Patricia Watt, Producer of the awards, Ava Astaire and The Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts have announced this year's Nominating Committee who will select nominees from the best of Broadway and film performances and choreography this season. Watt also announced that this year's Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to legendary director and choreographer, Kenny Ortega. The award is named for the esteemed late critic Douglas Watt who founded the Awards.

In addition to the star-studded awards, the evening's highlights will include a number of special performances including singer Robin Cofer; Ronald K. Brown's acclaimed Evidence Dance Company performing a number to commemorate their 25th Anniversary; a special tribute to Kenny Ortega and Tony Award nominated actor, director and choreographer Lee Roy Reams performing with the ladies who once danced with Mr. Astaire. The evening is directed by Reams and produced by Watt and. Co-producer is Ron Glucksman. Associate producer is Bronwen Carson.

Special honoree Ortega's work as a director, choreographer and producer is known and loved by millions around the world. Ortega has been the recipient of three Emmy Awards, back to back nominations and a DGA Award from the Director's Guild of America, Imagen Creative Achievement Award, an American Choreography Lifetime Achievement Award, MTV Video Music Award, ALMA Award, Nosotros Golden Eagle Award, Bob Fosse Award, as well as a number of others.

For over two decades, Ortega was Michael Jackson's director and creative partner. He directed both the "Dangerous" and "HIStory" world tours in the 1990's and numerous videos and shows for Jackson. Their creative partnership came to an abrupt end as they were working together on what was to be their greatest effort to date.

Jackson's untimely death, just as he was to embark on an unprecedented 50 sold-out concerts engagement at London's O2 Arena, brought the production and the world to a stunned halt. Left with over 100 hours of rehearsal footage, Ortega along with his close collaborators, musical director Michael Bearden and choreographer Travis Payne, assembled a two-hour feature film celebrating Jackson's talent that shows his fans what he was working on at the time of his passing. "Michael Jackson's This Is It," released on October 28, 2009 by Sony Pictures received an overwhelmingly positive response worldwide and has grossed over $250 million to date.

Countess Luann de Lesseps, Honorary Co-Chair.

A Redwood City, California native, Ortega began his career at age 13 performing in area plays until eventually landing a leading role in the original San Francisco touring production of "Hair." In 1983, he directed and choreographed "Marilyn, An American Fable." Later in the 1980s, he became known for his stage direction and choreography of the A&M recording artists, The Tubes. It was a Tubes performance in Los Angeles that caught the attention of Cher who asked Ortega to choreograph her television special. Soon, Ortega became the most sought after choreographer for the industry's biggest musical artists including Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bette Midler and The Pointer Sisters, to name a few.

When Ortega made the transition from stage choreography to film
choreography, he had the honor of working with the legendary Gene Kelly on the feature film "Xanadu" and then again on Francis Ford Coppola's "One From the Heart." Kelly soon became Ortega's mentor and taught him the art of designing choreography for the camera. Ortega's film choreography includes "Dirty Dancing," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Pretty in Pink" and "St. Elmo's Fire", as well as many others.

Ortega directed Disney Channel's "High School Musical" and "High School Musical 2" which were both the most successful Disney Channel Original Movies to date when they premiered. "High School Musical 2" drew over 17 million viewers when it premiered making it the most watched program in cable telecast history (and still is). "High School Musical" 1 and 2 have been seen by over 250 million people worldwide and both movies have broken numerous sales records for their soundtracks and DVDs.

Always one of the most glamorous and eagerly anticipated events on the theatrical calendar, the Awards have paid homage to the brightest lights in the world of dance. Previous winners of awards for dance performance include Debbie Allen, Hinton Battle, Charlotte D'Amboise, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Natalia Makarova, Donna McKechnie, Ann Miller, Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking and Chita Rivera.

Previous winners of awards for choreography are such legends as George Balanchine, Michael Bennett, Patricia Birch, Wayne Cilento, Graciela Daniele, Bob Fosse, Peter Martins, Ann Reinking, Jerome Robbins, Susan Stroman and two time winner Tommy Tune.

The Nominating Committee for the 2010 Fred and Adele Astaire Awards is comprised of Anna Kisselgoff, former Chief Dance Critic, New York Times; Wendy Perron, Editor in Chief of Dance Magazine, Sylviane Gold, freelance dance columnist for Dance Magazine, The New York Times, Newsday and Damian Woetzel, former lead dancer of the New York City Ballet, and Artistic Director of The Vail Institute.

Roberta Flack, Honorary Co-Chair.

The Nominating Committee for the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards is currently reviewing select shows and films for consideration for the awards to dancers and choreographers representing the best of Broadway and film performances and choreography this season. The name of the awards first presented 26 years ago, The Astaire Award, was changed to reflect the original intent of the awards creators in honoring the famed brother and sister team. This will be the first such award in three years. The award nominations will be announced on May 3 at Elaine's Restaurant in New York.

The Fred and Adele Astaire Awards (formerly known as The Astaire Awards established in 1982 by the Anglo-American Contemporary Dance Foundation and administered by Theatre Development Fund since 1991) recognize outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway each season. The award was established with the cooperation of Fred Astaire to honor him and his sister, Adele, who starred with her brother in 10 Broadway musicals between 1917 and 1931.

The Awards were expanded to include dance and choreography for film as this was the métier that brought Astaire to international fame and a permanent slot on every list of the top movie stars of the century.

Honorary Chairs for the Awards Gala are Roberta Flack, Countess Luann de Lesseps, and Bruce Michael; Co-chairs are Robin Cofer, Carolyn Kendall Buchter, Sara Johnson, Joe Lanteri and Cassandra Seidenfeld-Lyster.

The Honorary Committee includes Mr. and Mrs. Richard Adler, Jean Claude Baker, Bob Balaban, Marisa Berenson, Patricia Birch, Arlene Dahl, Jacques D'Amboise, Gracielle Danielle, Eve Ensler, Jules Fisher, Mario Fratti, Mitzi Gaynor, Savion Glover, Joel Grey, Richard Kornberg, Anne Jackson, Arthur Laurents, Sondra Lee, Rob Marshall, Donna McKechnie, Joey McKneely, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Marsha Norman, Robert Osborne, Jane Powell and Dick Moore, Harold Prince, Rex Reed, Ann Reinking, Donald Saddler, Liz Smith, Joe and Elis Stein, Richard Thomas, Karen Ziemba and Eli Wallach.

Benefit Co-Chairs include Robin Cofer, Cassandra Seidenfeld-Lyster, Sara Johnson, Carolyn Kendall Buchter and Joe Lanteri.

Benefit Committee includes Susan Agrest, Jennifer Bank, Clare Beresford Polster, Marysia Botkier, Carolyn Kendall Buchter, Susan Burnside, Sharon Bush, Nicholas Dalton, Dora Frost, Marianne Gaetti, Sara Herbert-Galloway, Terri Gold, Dhonna Goodale, Magda Katz, Dyann Klein, Regina Kravitz, Melanie La Patin, Caroline Lieberman, Jacqueline Marks, Kari Matz, Alix Michel, Stephanie Moriarity, Elina Nulman, Nancy Pearson, Caryn Picker, Scarlett Pildes, Rommy Revson, Paula Roman, Kat Schaffer, Beverly Silver, Arlene Sterne, Rae Stone, Jennifer Taylor and Andrew Wargo.

The evening begins with a VIP reception at 6 p.m.; Awards and Show at 7:30 p.m. An after Party with the winner and nominees follows at 9 p.m. VIP tickets $300 ($250 before April 30) includes pre and post parties. Second level - $150 for 7:30 p.m. performance; Third Level - $75 - for 7:30 p.m. performance.

For tickets and information, contact Patricia Watt, Executive Producer, at 212-595-0925 and Patricia_Watt@msn.com.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit Career Transition for Dancers (CTFD). Celebrating its Silver Anniversary, Career Transition for Dancers (CTFD) has worked to enable dancers to define their career possibilities and develop skills necessary to excel in a variety of disciplines for 25 years. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and a mobile National Outreach Project, the organization has provided over 43,000 hours of individual and group counseling, with over $3.7 million in educational and entrepreneurial grants. Outside of the organization's 4,300 active clients, the organization has helped thousands of dancers in 47 states take their first steps towards discovering rewarding post-performance careers.

For more information go to www.careertransition.org.

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