New York City
"Porgy and Bess" star Norm Lewis served as host of the gala.
- Evidence, A Dance Company
presented the first-ever performance of "Gatekeepers" and recognized the Verizon Foundation for its commitment to the arts at its 8th Annual Gala on February 13, at New York's Manhattan Center. Founded by internationally-acclaimed choreographer Artistic Director Ronald K. Brown
, Evidence's mission is to promote understanding of the African Diaspora through music, movement and spoken word.
Hosted by The Gershwins' "Porgy and Bess" star Norm Lewis
, some 250 distinguished guests attended the star-studded affair. Actress Phylicia Rashad
served as the Gala Honorary Chair. The black-tie event began with an elegant cocktail reception, followed by dinner, a special performance by Evidence, dessert and Evidence's signature "Dancing with the Dancers."
Special Guests attending the celebratory gala included Filmmaker Spike Lee
; Actress Tamara Tunie
of "Law and Order: SVU;" Tony Award winning actress LaChanze
of "The Help" and Broadway's "The Color Purple;" Supermodel and businesswoman Beverly Johnson
; Judith Jamison
, former Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Chef Roblé Ali
's "Chef Roblé & Co.;" and leading cast from "Porgy and Bess."
Reginald Van Lee, Evidence's Chairman Emeritus and senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, at the gala. (Courtesy Photo: SBG)
Verizon Foundation received the 2012 Corporate Gatekeepers Award for their long standing support of the arts and community development and Evidence, A Dance Company.
The Gala presented Evidence's performance of "Gatekeepers," a powerful modern dance work choreographed by Brown that explores the theme of service and intergenerational care giving. In addition to performances, The Gatekeepers Community Project provides opportunities for elders and youth to interact together in an inclusive way, ultimately to strengthen communities and teach respect and collective responsibility.
"Ron Brown's inspiration and influence for the dance work Gatekeepers and for Evidence's 2012 theme of "Gatekeepers: Celebrating Service" includes Native American myth and African traditions," said Lewis of Brown, who also choreographed "Porgy and Bess."
Rose Kirk, president of Verizon Foundation, accepted the Corporate Gatekeeper Award, with Monica Azare, Evidence board member and gala chair. (Courtesy Photo: SBG)
"These cultures believe that just as the community cares for the child, so must the child care for the elders when it is time to transition in to the afterlife. Ron has blended these themes of a safe and peaceful way of life across the generations and our responsibility to help each other in this quest."
The gala featured a Charity Buzz auction where visitors could bid on spectacular auction items including a round of golf with model Beverly Johnson, custom dinner at home prepared by Bravo's Chef Roble, and a luxury getaway in Costa Rica, among others.
Guests were also the first to experience an exclusive preview of the new, not-yet-released Grey Goose Cherry Noir
vodka, set to hit shelves this spring.
All proceeds will benefit Evidence's outreach programs, including the Gatekeeper Community Project. Gala sponsors included Verizon Foundation, Grey Goose Vodka, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Booz Allen Hamilton, DraftFCB
, Nielsen, and Prudential.
Evidence, A Dance Company performs a new work, "Gatekeepers" at its 8th Annual Gala. (Courtesy Photo: SBG)