Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sarasota Ballet's On Pointe Luncheon

Much laughter rang through the Van Wezel Grand Foyer yesterday at Sarasota Ballet's On Pointe
Luncheon, along with a few tears.  The On Pointe Luncheon is an "ask" event where it is free to attend, but you are asked to make a donation at the end of the event, so it is a good thing for the audience to feel great emotion whether it's happy or sad, but ideally both and for it to happen naturally is best of all.  The money raised goes to the Dance - the Next Generation Program, which puts at-risk children through a seven year program to prepare them for college.

The laughter was from dancer Yamil Maldanado as he told, quite hilariously, about his first years with the Dance - the Next Generation program.  It took him the entire seven years to realize he really liked dancing in the ballet and that he didn't want it to end!  He is nearing graduation from the Sarasota Military Academy and will be pursuing dancing professionally.  If he somehow doesn't make it as a ballet dancer, he could successfully be a comedian, I think!  He said he had ADHD, which meant "crazy brown kid who wouldn't stop  moving"!  He was really quite adorable.

The tears came from Ballet Artistic Director Iain Webb as he spoke about a young dancer whose mother had just died over the weekend and he didn't know how to help her.  It was very hard to keep a dry eye, especially when Iain himself was tearing up.

The goal of the DNG program is not to create dancers, but to help at-risk children be productive adults.  That was certainly the case for student Darranda Heggs who successfully went through the program and is now a respiratory therapist.  She spoke of how when she was perfecting pirouettes, it was helping her perfect test scores.  The program was such a blessing to her that she is now a volunteer with the program.

After all the talking was done, the ask was made, and hopefully, lots and lots of money was raised for this terrific program!

Others seen in the crowd were Mary Anne Servian, Karen Grablin, Jean Weidner, Judy Cahn, Tracy Seider, Susan Brainerd, Pam Daniel, Kay Kipling, Ilene Denton, Molly Turner, Jennifer Gemmeke, Isabel Norton, and Joan Nixon.

Gerri Aaron and Sally Yanowitz

Suzanne Atwell and Logan Learned

Giovanna McGrath and Marilee Roberts

Retta Wagner and Rebecca Blitz

Marie Monsky and Vivian Kouvant

Ricki Bertoni, Betty Schoenbaum, Hillary Steele and Danielle Brown

Jamie Becker and Monica Barth

Veronica Brandon Miller and Michael Scott

Renee Hamad and Heather Dunhill

Peggy Abt and Lois Stulberg

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