The 17th annual edition of the spectacular Fire Island Dance Festival raised a record-breaking $340,445, surpassing the previous record by more than $23,000. Fire Island Dance Festival 17, the most anticipated cultural event of the season at Fire Island Pines, was presented July 15-17 and is produced by and benefits Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Two-time Tony Award-winner and renowned actor, singer, dancer Bebe Neuwirth hosted the event which featured an eclectic mix of world-renowned and emerging dancers, dance companies and choreographers. The program celebrated ballet, modern, Broadway and contemporary dance, all performed outdoors against the stunning backdrop of the Great South Bay.
"The first Fire Island Dance Festival in 1995 raised $6,000, which was remarkable," said Denise Roberts Hurlin, founding director of Dancers Responding to AIDS. "To reach this extraordinary, record-breaking fundraising total demonstrates that the commitment by the artists who perform every year is matched only by the enthusiasm of the community that continues to support the festival. The money raised by Dancers Responding to AIDS and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS ensures that hundreds of thousands of men, women and children living with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses will continue getting the help and support they need."
Fire Island Dance Festival 17 included performances by:
Brian Brooks Moving Company, described by the Village Voice as "smart, utterly unpretentious heroes" who will "make your eyes water and your spirit soar."
Brandon Bryant, a contemporary dancer from Miami and season 5 finalist on the hit Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance," who returns to the show this week as a featured "all star."
Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, a cultural treasure for New York City, long serving both the Harlem community and the arts community as a pipeline for the next generation of ballet dancers.
Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, called by Dance Magazine "equal parts power and grace," intertwines sensual and provocative movement with a strong understanding of music.
Paul Taylor Dance Company, one of the few indisputably prestigious dance companies in the world, which returned to the festival to perform two excerpts from the sexy "Brief Encounters" and crowd-pleasing "Arden Court."
Sokvannara "Sy" Sar, featured in the Anne Bass documentary Dancing Across Borders and premiering a solo by Jill Johnson in collaboration with Vail International Dance Festival
New York City Ballet principal ballerina Wendy Whelan and soloist Craig Hall performing Christopher Wheeldon's wondrous "Liturgy."
The festival showcased a pièce d'occasion by Dontee Kiehn, a fresh emerging choreographer and alumna of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Complexions Contemporary Ballet presented a special performance Friday, July 15, as part of an exclusive festival kick-off event for Leadership Supporters, made possible by presenting sponsor Audemars Piguet.
Neuwirth took the stage as host after completing an acclaimed 15-month run as Morticia Addams in Broadway's The Addams Family. She earned Tony Awards for lead actress in the Broadway revival of Chicago and for featured actress in Sweet Charity. In addition to an array of other television and movie roles, she won two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Dr. Lilith Sternin Crane on Cheers.
Neuwirth's heart has belonged to dance since she first started taking ballet at age 5. In addition to her remarkable work on stage, screen and television, she also is founder of The Dancers' Resource, a program of The Actors Fund that creates a unique health, financial and emotional support system for dancers and choreographers. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS was the original funder of The Dancers' Resource and remains its primary financial supporter.