By Walter Rutledge
The Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) held their 4th annual Vision Gala on Tuesday, February 24 at Cipriani, 110 East 42nd Street. The fundraiser honored opera diva Jessye Norman with the Arthur Mitchell Vision Award. Theodore Bartwink was honored posthumously with the Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Family Foundation Medal. For over three decades Bartwink was the Director of the Harness Center for Dance. The Virtuoso Award Honorees were Mario Baeza and Under Armour, Inc.
In addition to the Arthur Mitchell Vision Award Norman was also honored with two dance performances, which were set to her arias. Dance Theatre of Harlem Resident Choreographer Robert Garland choreographed the works. Aspiring young dancers from the school performed the first work, and company members from the Dance Theatre of Harlem also danced later in the program.
Feminist trailblazer Gloria Steinem introduced Norman. This was a masterful choice; both women have made significant contributions for social change, and are role models for women. This award is just one in a long list of honors bestowed of Norman she has received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts, and is a member of the British Royal Academy of Music. A longtime supporter of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Norman also serves on the company’s Board of Directors.
During her very eloquent acceptance speech Norman reiterated the importance of the arts in the lives of young people and the impact on the community. She then acknowledged the role Dance Theatre of Harlem has served under the leadership of Founder Arthur Mitchell, and now with the present Artistic Director Virginia Johnson. A performance of The Greatest, choreographed by Arthur Mitchell and performed by Da’Von Doane and Ashley Murphy culminated the evening.
Tuesday night’s gala raised $500,000 for Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Next Generation Fund and Community Engagement Fund. These funds provide scholarships and financial assistance for aspiring dancers and supporting arts education and community programs. For more information about the programs and community serves sponsored by Dance Theatre of Harlem or to purchase tickets to the upcoming New York Season April 8 through 11 at New York City Center visit www.dancetheatreofharlem.org.
In Photo: 1) Jessye Norman and DTH Student 2) Gloria Steinem and Jessye Norman 3) Jessye Norman and Gloria Steinem 4) Da’Von Doane and Ashley Murphy
Photo by: 1&4) Joseph Rodman 2&4) Adewale Adekanbi
To check out more dance click below:
Shall We Dance Friday: Diana Vishneva in Moses Pendleton’s F.L.O.W. I, II and III