Six years ago, arts patron and longtime Board Member and supporter of Career Transition For Dancers (CTFD), Anka Palitz
decided to introduce her Palm Beach friends to the work of CTFD in enabling dancers to define their post-dance career possibilities and develop the skills necessary to excel in a variety of disciplines and launched the annual Heart & Soul Gala. Since then, the event has become one of the must-attend parties of the season and has become famed for its high voltage entertainment.
On Thursday, January 29th, over 200 guests filled the Circle Ball Room at The Breakers in Palm Beach for a thrilling evening of dinner, dance and music hosted by actor and singer Gianni Russo of "The Godfather" fame, thanks to the efforts of a group of powerhouse chairs and committee members. Hermè De Wyman served as International Chair with Anka Palitz, Jennifer Myerberg and Ann Van Ness as Gala Co-Chairs. Dinner chairs included George J. Palladino and Jerrold St. George and Vice Chairs were Michele Herbert, Marsha & Carl Hewitt and Carol Jaeger.
The evening paid tribute to two leaders in the world of dance. Last year's honoree Ellis J. Parker III presented this year's first honoree Dorothy Lappin, President of The Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation, with the Heart & Soul Award. Jan Hanniford, The Dean of Dance at the Dreyfoos School was presented with her award by last year's honoree Steven Caras. Gianni Russo, the event's host, performed with his musical trio. Artists from the Dreyfoos School performed the world premiere of a piece by award winning choreographer Margo Sappington, created in honor of Dorothy and Jan. Internationally acclaimed ballroom champions, Cheryl and Omar Almallah also performed during the Gala, the duo showcased a beautiful slow fox trot.
Honoree Jan Hanniford and George Palladino. (Photo: Mike Jachles/AnnieWatt.com)
A live auction was another highlight of the evening and featured such one-of-a kind experiences and luxury items as tickets for two to attend to CTFD 30th Anniversary Pearl Jubilee in NYC for dinner, performance and a bow on stage with the stars; a stay at the Baccarat Hotel in NYC; two elegant evening gowns by acclaimed designer Carmen Marc Valvo; Sonia B. 14 kt. yellow gold and diamond bracelet; two days at a historic Normandy chateau and the naming of CTFD educational scholarships. The auction helped bring the event's fundraising efforts to over $157,000.
"I started this annual event to bring awareness of the brevity of a professional dancer's career; the average age of retirement is 34. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Career Transition For Dancers is the safety net for all dancers," stated Ms. Palitz. "To date, more than $11 million has been awarded for vital one-on-one career counseling plus scholarships and grants for higher education, entrepreneurial endeavors and certification programs. In Florida alone, we've aided 116 dancers."
Fresh from her successful Palm Beach Gala, Ms. Palitz, who as a Vice Chair of CTFD's Board has hosted many receptions, lunches, and chaired their world renowned annual Jubilees at City Center for years, is already hard at work on their next big event: Rolex Presents Career Transition For Dancers 30TH Anniversary Pearl Jubilee: A Star-Studded Retrospective
on Monday, September 28th at New York City Center, followed by "Super With The Stars" dinner at The Grand Ballroom at The Hilton New York. The New York Times has called the annual event "extraordinarily spectacular."
Dreyfoos School dancers perform the world premiere of a new work by Margo Sappington. (Photo: Mike Jachles/AnnieWatt.com)
Career Transition For Dancers, founded in 1985, enables dancers to define their career possibilities and develop skills necessary to excel in post-performance professions. The organization has provided more than 6,400 dancers with over 62,000 hours, equivalent to approximately $8 million of career counseling and program services, and has awarded millions of dollars in educational scholarships and entrepreneurial grants. CTFD has helped thousands of dancers throughout the US take their first steps towards discovering rewarding post-performance careers.
In 2013, Career Transition For Dancers was presented with a special Tony Award in recognition of its three decades of support for dancers to discover new and rewarding careers when performing is no longer an option.
For more information, visit www.careertransition.org.