Ronald K. Brown and his acclaimed Evidence, A Dance Company held its 8th Annual On Our Toes in the Hamptons on the sprawling grounds of the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. Always one of summer's most eagerly anticipated events, the party draws supporters from all across the country for a festive afternoon benefitting Brown's much loved dance troupe.
Despite predictions of thunderstorms, it was a picture perfect summer day as guests flowed into the renowned schools culinary, education and community center, Jeff's Kitchen, for late afternoon cocktails. Chef David Martinez and his team at Harlem's critically acclaimed 5 and Diamond Restaurant offered up platter after platter of delectable hors d'oeuvres. To complement the tasty treats there were specialty cocktails from Belvedere and guests immediately got into their party mode.
Event Chair Dr. Ancy Verdier, Board Chairman Emeritus Reginald Van Lee, Vice-Chair Joanne Hill and Board Secretary Gail Monroe-Perry warmly welcomed guests to what has become the premiere African-American cultural and social event of the Hamptons season and an annual reunion of dance patrons. Among the first to arrive were Alicia & Dan Bythewood, Peg Alston & Burton Willis, Board members Dwayne Ashley, Monica F. Azare; Reginald Canal, Andrea Hoffman. Leslie Mays, Larry Satterfield and Jocelyn Taylor; Young Professionals Committee Chair Jenna Bond-Louden; Law & Order SVU star Tamara Tunie glamorous in a quintessentially Hamptons oversize straw hat with her husband jazz vocalist Gregory Generet and Essence Magazine Editrix Emerita Susan L. Taylor and her husband filmmaker and producer Khephra Burns.
After cocktails, throbbing drums signaled a call to the Main Tent for dinner and the start of the evening's program. Numerous food stations decorated by Chef Martinez with tropical fish, exotic birds and fairy tale horses and carriages carved from fruit lent a fanciful Midsummer Night's Dream effect.
Following the bountiful dinner, Gail Monroe Perry welcomed guests and thanked them profusely for their longtime commitment to Evidence, A Dance Company. She then introduced Dr. Ancy Verdier, this year's Event Chair, to present awards to two dynamic individuals who have effected great change in their respective professions: artist, educator and activist Jon Snow, co-founder of the Hayground School and renowned financial advisor Lola C. West, Managing Director, WestFuller Advisors LLC. Both made especially gracious speeches and cited the enormous gift of Evidence in chronicling the African Diaspora through storytelling and dance.
Within moments the audience witnessed first-hand, the amazing talents oF Brown and his dance troupe as they performed the electrifying "Ife My Heart", a signature piece for the company, which was built as the journey of three families to one destination: a place where the heart was open. Ife/My Heart was originally commissioned and performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2005.
The conclusion of the 15 minute piece was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. A smiling but breathless Brown, humbly thanked the assembled guests and introduced the company including Waldean Nelson, Lilli Anne Tai, Clarice Young, Annique Roberts, Tislarm Bouie and Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag.
Corporate sponsors for On Our Toes...were Belvedere Vodka, Booz Allen Hamilton, FedEx and Prudential. Sponsors included Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Monica Azare, Khephra Burns and Susan L. Taylor, Dr. Jeanine Downie and Michael Heningburg, Joanne E. Hill, Loida N. Lewis, Gail Monroe-Perry, Larry Satterfield, Jennifer Streaks, Reginald Van Lee, Dr. Ancy Verdier and Verizon.