Sun Shines Bright on FIDF 14: Choreographic Sponsorships Boost Fund-Raising Total to $307,500

It has been a challenging year for many charities, so it was especially significant that the 14th AnnualFire Island Dance Festival succeeded in raising $307,500 with three sold-out party/performances in Fire Island Pines on the weekend of July 19th and 20th.

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FIDF 14 owed much of its success to a 40-percent increase in Choreographic Sponsorships of new dance works created specifically for the Festival, said Denise Roberts Hurlin, founding director of Dancers Responding to AIDS, which produced the event.

“Choreographic Sponsorship has quickly established itself as the next stage of the Fire Island Dance Festival’s evolution,” she added. Seven of the 12 works performed this summer were created exclusively for the Festival with key financial support from generous sponsors.

This year’s four Major Choreographic Sponsors were: Peter Schamel and The Steve and Lisa Cundall Family Charitable Trust; Goldman Sachs Gives/The Chavez Family Foundation; longtime FIDF supporter Brandon Fradd; and Broadway Cares donor Judy Dove, who sponsored “Suite Love,” (#1) a new piece by Tony Award®-winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell, the creator of Broadway Bares, and performed by Rasta Thomas and Bad Boys of Dance.

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The other new dance works created specifically for Festival 14:

  •  “Tres Bailes,” (#4) choreographed by Jean Emile and performed by Ballet Hispanico. Major Choreographic Sponsor: Goldman Sachs Gives/The Chavez Family Foundation.
  • “Can U See,” (#12) choreographed by Vernard J. Gilmore and performed by Matt Anctil and Chris Jackson. Major Choreographic Sponsor: Brandon Fradd.
  •  “That’s What I Like,” (#13) choreographed by John McFall and performed by Atlanta Ballet. Choreographic Sponsor: Karl Kemp. Choreographic Sponsor: John Scott.
  •  “Falcon Project: A Meditation on Movement and Gender Identity (Excerpt),” (#2) choreographed by Ellis Wood and performed by Ellis Wood Dance. Choreographic Sponsor: Continental Airlines.
  •  “Break Through,” (#14) choreographed by Jermaine Browne and performed by his company. Choreographic Sponsor: Chris Fraley and Victor Self.
  •  “Bend to Me,” (#11) choreographed by David Parsons and performed by Parsons Dance. Major Choreographic Sponsor: Peter Schamel & The Steve and Lisa Cundall Family Charitable Trust.

Additional performances included Jacoby and Pronk (#3), Jennifer Muller|The Works (#5), Jason Samuels Smith (#6), Dance Plus Ballrom (#7) and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (#9).

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Who’s Who
FIDF 14 was held for the fifth year at the beautiful home of Jon Biondo and Tim Horman, overlooking the Great South Bay. Albert Lepage won recognition as a Major Sponsor of this year’s Festival; Andrew Tobias and Charles Nolan won recognition as Sponsors. FIDF 14 was also made possible by a total of 163 Leadership Supporters.

Academy Award® winner Whoopi Goldberg (#8) returned for her second year as host of Saturday’s two performances.Sordid Lives’ Caroline Rhea (#10) (a veteran of Comedy Cares and other BC/EFA-related events) took over as emcee for Sunday’s Closing Performance.

Goldberg’s appearance followed a busy week, during which she announced that she would fill in for Jackie Hoffman inXanadu during August and drew criticism for using a polarizing expletive on “The View.” “We were talking ‘bout the ‘n’ word,” said Goldberg, adding that her language upset View cohost “my friend Elisabeth” Hasselbeck.

“I never turn around when somebody says it,” she deadpanned.  “I could go on, but I won’t,” she said, slyly leading into a discussion of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama and America’s deep-seated fear of electing an African-American President: “It’s like the country grabbed its collective pocketbook.”

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Rhea’s Say
Pretty (and very pregnant) in pink, Caroline Rhea delighted Sunday’s crowd with some fresh material, and a few tidbits aboutSordid Lives, her new series on the gay-themed LOGO Network.

“I’ve always wanted to say this: The ferry wrecked my hair!” quipped the blonde comedienne, a Pines newcomer, who drew laughs with lines like, “I had a gay best friend in high school — my boyfriend” and one stolen from her mother, “I think his name is ‘Gary’ and I think the ‘r’ is silent.”

Commenting on her seventh month of pregnancy, the former host of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” emphasized that her child’s nanny would be “coming from the Russian troll agency” and compared her feet to another celebrity’s — Shrek.

Friday Night Lights
The festive weekend kicked off with Friday night’s Leadership Party, held once again in the Albert Lepage Pavilion of FIPPOA’s Whyte Hall, the Pines Community Center. With a theme of red, white and silver, the affair was given more sparkle by a circular, mirrored floor created by designer/carpenter David Masenheimer.

Created to thank Leadership Supporters and Planning Committee members, as well as the 40 hosts who housed the 50 dancers and 40 volunteers, the Leadership Party featured performances by Broadway sensations Felicia Finley (The Wedding Singer) and Jose Llana (The King and I).

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A Massive, Group Effort
Midway through each performance, Hurlin addressed the packed audience, praising the contributions of Sponsors, Leadership Supporters, BC/EFA staff members and volunteers for months of preparation and the several days of intensive labor it takes to turn a bay-front deck and swimming pool into a dance venue with a 32’ by 30’ stage with tiered, platform seating.

“The venue looked beautiful, the printed materials vibrant and lovely, the performances spectacular, the parties were fun and festive, and the food was delicious and plentiful,” Hurlin added.

“All the dancers were so happy to be a part of the entire weekend – they enjoyed it all from dancing in the hot sun to their terrific send-off at the Pines nightspot Sip ‘n Twirl.”

Hurlin, who in 1991 co-founded DRA with Hernando Cortez,  also offered heartfelt thanks to DRA staff members Christopher Davis (Producer) and Chris Giarmo (Associate Producer) along with former BC/EFA staffer Ariadne Villarreal, who helped produce several editions of the Festival and opened her Pines home to DRA staff, dancers, donors and volunteers for many years.

Corporate Sponsors for Fire Island Dance Festival 14 included: The New York Times, Continental Airlines, GRW Advertising, NEXT Magazine, PEEQ, EMR Systems, BV Vineyards, Movmnt, and Passport Magazine. Community Sponsors included:Fire Island News, Fire Island Pines Property Owners’ Association, John Joseph Designs, Pines Pantry, Pines Pizza and Martini Bar, Sayville Ferry Service, and Tony’s Barge.


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 Photo Credits: Rosalie O’Connor