New York City
- The Sixth Annual Winter Heat Latin Dance Party presented by Career Transition For Dancers and Complexions Contemporary Ballet on March 2 positively crackled with electricity and sizzled with heat, as over 200 dressed-to-dance supporters of the two organizations danced the Salsa through the night in the posh penthouse and rooftop garden at 230 Fifth Avenue, one of New York's most dramatic venues.
Benefit chair Janice Becker and Board Chairnaman Jerry Appelstein.
Created and managed by Steve Greenberg
former owner of New York's famous Roxy and Palladium nightclubs, 230 Fifth has in just one year of existence received worldwide recognition as New York's # 1 Rooftop Garden and Fully Enclosed Penthouse Lounge. It is certainly the largest Rooftop Garden in the city and perhaps larger than all other venues combined. Yet, the manner in which the rooms are divided allows for intimacy whether your crowd is 50 or 500.
And the service and food equal the design of this highly original party palace. Guests arriving for cocktails were greeted by a phalanx of pretty young things bearing tray after tray of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres before they stepped into the beautifully decorated lounge with its panoramic views of the city. On hand at the end of the line were Benefit Chairs Gerald Appelstein
, Janice Becker
, Joanne Billera
, Fe Saracino Fendi
, and Sylvia Golden
- all ready to party, with the ladies in twirly dresses and many of the gents sporting open necked shirts and jackets.
Over cocktails in the multi-tiered lounge, guests were able to take in the extraordinary skyline views. Through one wall of floor to ceiling windows one could see in one breathtaking glance three of New York's most iconic landmarks - the gilded spire of the New York Life Building, the art deco designed Chrysler Building and the towering Empire State Building!
CTFD's Adam Thompson.
The crowd was an interesting mix that cut right across New York's usually defined social lines with Park Avenue ladies, struggling young dancers and artists, business tycoons and social workers mixing it up. They all shared a common passion - the love of dance and dancing. In one corner, James Fayette
and his wife New York City Ballet
prima ballerina Jenifer Ringer
were chatting with social workers Alice Vienneau
and Amy Wilder
(a former ABT dancer) who both work with the Actor's Fund Dancers Resource project. So romantic was the setting that Jeff Keller
got down on one knee and "proposed" to his wife Andreia Keller
Surveying the crowd, Benefit co-chair Becker was clearly pleased with the turnout." I wanted to create an event that was accessible to people across the board. Making the event affordable allowed us to reach a broader group of dance fans. This party is all about being upbeat and happy. There won't be any long speeches or pitches - just fun. Living in such precarious times, it's nice to give people a little dose of joy."
As guests moved to the main dining room, they passed by the elevators from which were hoardes of downtown divas, drag queens and performance artists were emerging with comedienne Joan Rivers
at the forefront, and who were all heading to a 25th anniversary celebration in another room for Village Voice
gossip columnist Michael Musto
. What a hoot as the garishly clad downtown set walked right into the elegant Uptown crowd.
Former ABT dancer Amy Wilder, Alice Vienneau, James Fayette and ABT principal dancer Jenifer Ringer.
Down a passageway, the crowd moved into the stunningly decorated main dining room which Becker, with the help of premiere floral designer Joseph Campbell
of Flowers by Brian had transformed into an enormous interior garden with huge oversized hibiscus in orange, lemon and cream housed in white cones. With the gleaming panorama of the city as a backdrop, it was like being inside a huge terrarium.
Jean and Marin Shafiroff hit the dance floor.
Once seated, the crowd tucked into their salad of Baby Arugula, Endive, Radicchio with shaved fennel and lemon vinaigrette and turned their attention to the stage where CTFD Chairman Gerald (Jerry) Appelstein
, Chairman of the Board of Complexions, and his fellow benefit chairs warmly and briefly welcomed the guests and introduced the extraordinarily talented dance company Complexions. With that a dozen dancers stepped onto the floor and launched into a torrid salsa reminiscent of the famed Dance in the Gym sequence in "West Side Story" especially with the city in the background. The piece "Salsa Pit" was choreographed by Dwight Rhoden
, a co-founder of Complexions and set to driving music by Gruno Fantasma
with costumes by Miho K. Morinoue
. It left the audience positively breathless and at the finale there were cries of Bravo
The extremely polite and professional staff served dinner, a choice of Braised Short Ribs with garlic mashed potatoes, baby vegetables with a port wine reduction or Seared Pave of Salmon with sautéed spinach in a red wine butter sauce. Both dishes were received with major thumbs up and the short ribs fans and the salmon favors wound up switching plates and taste testing - verdict - unanimous agreement that the fare was all first class.
Andreia and Jeff Keller.
Following a divine chocolate cake with strawberry coulis, many of the guests opted for a walk up the grand staircase for a breath of air and the chance to catch one of the city's most sweeping panoramic views. Several hundred others had a similar idea and guests crowded around the cocktail tables and basked in the warmth of the overhead heaters. For those who wanted a bit more heat, management graciously provided a bright red floor length Snuggie. Soon the beautiful rooftop garden was dotted with monk like figures enjoying the rare opportunity to be on a roof in mid-winter!
Complexions other co-founder Desmond Richardson
led a Latin Dance Class following dessert and gave the attendees a chance to brush up on their twirls and swirls.
The Harbor Latin Big Band under the direction of Louis Bauzó
soon had the dance floor jammed with hip swaying dancers. Bauzo, a favorite of the organizers, has performed with such Latin greats as Tito Puente
, Celia Cruz
, Johnny Pacheco
, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros
and many more.Barbara
and Donald Tober
and Richard Soloway
and Martin Shafiroff
and New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns
and Giovanni Villalobos
were among the sizzling swinging couples dazzling watchers with their sensuous and smooth moves.
Kudos to all the committee members who hosted a glamorous elegant old-fashioned dance party including the Honorary Chairs, Sarita Allen
, Carmen de Lavallade
and Chita Rivera
, Benefit Chairs Gerald Appelstein
, Janice Becker
, Joanne Billera
, Fe Saracino Fendi
, and Sylvia Golden
and The Benefit Committee members Alexander J. Dubé
, Mercedes Ellington
, Barry S. Friedberg
and Charlotte Moss
, Anka K. Palitz
, Patricia Shiah
, Susan Fawcett Sosin
, Ann Van Ness
, and Helene Zipper
New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns and Giovanni Villalobos.
The best part of the evening was that the event would raise funds to ensure positive futures for those artists both leaving the profession (CTFD) as well as those preparing for dance careers (Complexions). Cynthia Fischer
, president of CTFD and Secretary of the Board of Complexions came up with the novel idea of a combined benefit that was clearly a success. Fischer stated, "In the perfect dance combination, Complexions Contemporary Ballet partnered with Career Transition For Dancers for a magic evening of Salsa dancing including a HOT performance by Complexions. By joining forces they raised funds that will support these performing artists as well as those dancers, past and present, who rely on CTFD's services."
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 to learn more about the organization go to
Jerry Appelstein, Rosemary Ingleton, and Andre Minot.
Celebrating 15 years of dance, Complexions Contemporary Ballet founded by co-artistic directors Dwight Rhoden
and Desmond Richardson
is an ensemble company based in New York City. The mission of Complexions is to celebrate excellence in dance. The company aims to inspire its audiences through the passion, physicality, and power of its performers. From classical ballet to its contemporary derivations, Complexions harnesses the strengths of varied dance forms to bring its unique blend to audiences around the globe. Throughout its 15 years the company has toured extensively weaving across the United States, North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia - to name a few. Performances often include educational programs for local community members. In 2009, the company's summer intensive (for dancers 16-21) was expanded to three weeks and its annual Joyce Theater season received exceptional acclaim.
For more information on CTFD go to www.careertransition.org
, and for more information on Complexions go to www.complexions.org