June 4, 2014
NY Theater News : Joel Benjamin
Photos: Miriam Spritzer Video: Magda Katz
The Fred & Adele Astaire Awards which has celebrated excellence in dance since 1982 handed out its awards in a ceremony/performance at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in Greenwich Village on June 2nd. An exciting crowd of theater artists filled both the auditorium and stage. Elegance and glitter were the order of the evening with dancers and philanthropists showing off their finery and forms.
Keeping with the Astaire theme, a group of ballroom dancers did a version of “The Carioca,” the legendary dance number in which Astaire was first united with Ginger Rogers. The four couples wiggled hips, shared sexy glances and oozed about, giving Stephen Knight’s rather clichéd steps as much zest as they could muster. Another presentation was a work called “5/4” by honoree Luigi danced to Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission Impossible” Theme by five game young ladies illustrating Luigi’s classic jazz movements. Luigi (aka Eugene Louis Faccuito), a world renowned jazz dance teacher and movement therapist, now well into his nineties (!) is still active. Valerie Harper, Susan Stroman and Donna McKechnie gave obeisance to the great man who won his award for Outstanding Contribution to Dance Education. It’s difficult to think of a more deserving person.
Hal Prince gave a beautiful speech about Patricia Birch who was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award. Also lauding her was Steve Buscemi who told funny stories about her work with Boardwalk Empire from which a Boardwalk Empire Medley was performed: A chorus of period cuties jiggled their fringed outfits while the always amiable Stephen DeRosa reprised his Eddie Cantor character singing a version of “If You Knew Susie,” but changing the lyrics to honor Ms. Birch (“if you knew Patty”).
The cast of the Paper Mill Playhouse’s production of Grease performed a rip-roaring number and members of the American Dance Machine—Deanna Doyle & Cory Lingner—sang and danced a lovely duet from the Kurt Weill/Langston Hughes Street Scene as staged by Ms. Birch.
A stage full of tap dancers, at least 50 of them, danced Nancy Chippendale’s “Glam.” Ms. Chippendale stage managed this group with imaginative use of lines, spacing and formations, including pinwheels and kick lines. The young dancers had a ball dancing for this very demonstrative and appreciative audience.
The 32nd Annual Fred and Adele Astaire Awards – June 2, 2014
NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Pl. at Washington Square South
New York, NY
Information about upcoming events at the Skirball Center: www.nyuskirball.org