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Hudson Valley Dance Festival 2013 Delivers Inspiring, Emotional Evening

The inaugural edition of Hudson Valley Dance Festival transformed the Historic Catskill Point into a world-class arts venue on October 12, 2013, producing a captivating evening of dance for an enthusiastic, standing-room-only audience.

Set in a 19th century warehouse on the banks of the Hudson River, Hudson Valley Dance Festival raised an impressive $76,950.

The evening featured performances by three of the most talked-about dance companies in the country – Evidence, A Dance Company; Monica Bill Barnes & Company and Stephen Petronio Company - and choreography by famed American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes.

"The support and generosity of the Hudson Valley community, coupled with the boundless talent of the dancers and choreographers, made this inaugural event an incredible success," said Denise Roberts Hurlin, founding director of Dancers Responding to AIDS. "The response we have received from the moment we started planning more than a year ago has been overwhelming as everyone embraced not only the opportunity to showcase world-class professional dance here in the Hudson Valley but also the desire to help make a difference for men, women and children who are battling HIV/AIDS and other critical issues."

The money raised at Hudson Valley Dance Festival will help provide grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide, helping to ensure that those in need have access to lifesaving medications, counseling, healthy meals and emergency financial assistance.

Hudson Valley Dance Festival transformed the 115-year-old wooden warehouse at Catskill Point into a modern-day dance venue, complete with a stage and raised seating for 340.

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion Photo by Danny Roberts Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater photo by Danny Roberts

Photos by Em Watson

Monica Bill Barnes & Company opened the show with a humorously seductive duet to James Brown’s "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine)." They returned later to perform an excerpt from Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, a clever piece that integrated an audio interview by This American Life host Ira Glass with dancer Anna Bass. As Barnes and Bass danced, you heard Bass describe to Glass what it was like dancing next to Barnes.

Stephen Petronio Company performed an excerpt from Underland, a dance filled with power and passion set to the eclectic music of Australian artist Nick Cave, whom The New York Times once described as “the musical love child of Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond.”  The company displayed precision athleticism and emotional tenderness while flirting with changes in speed, direction and style, seemingly without effort.

Marcelo Gomes, principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, presented his own choreography in a pas de deux featuring Jessica Saund and Thomas Forster, both members of ABT’s corps de ballet. Set to “Mozart-Adagio” by Arvo Pàˆrt, Gomes’ emotional Endlos beautifully explored the tragic depths of a couple’s true love.

Evidence, A Dance Company, honored the memory of one its members in the celebratory Torch, choreographed by Ronald K. Brown, Evidence founder and artistic director. The piece begins with one dancer standing on the shoulders of the troupe before falling backwards into their arms, a symbolic acknowledgement of the loss of Brown’s friend, dance student and supporter Beth Young, who died in January 2012. The dance grew into a cadenced celebration set to the South African-infused club music of Teddy Douglas and DJ Zinhle.

VIP ticket buyers and sponsors were invited to a post-performance reception at the much-admired Catskill home of Mark Beard and James Manfredi. The home, a former Presbyterian church complete with bell tower and 30-foot ceilings, serves as one of Beard’s art studios, brimming with oversized oil paintings and heroic bronze sculptures. It was a rare opportunity for supporters to gain an up-close look at Beard’s art collection as well as the work of his alter ego, Bruce Sargeant, while mingling with the cast of Hudson Valley Dance Festival.

The view from the Historic Catskill Point - Photo by Rob Shannon
The view from the Historic Catskill Point - Photo by Rob Shannon


The genesis of Hudson Valley Dance Festival began more than a year ago. Greene County residents Duke Dang, Charles Rosen and Todd Whitley approached DRA Founding Director Denise Roberts Hurlin about expanding to the Hudson Valley. They recognized DRA’s two decades of success producing unique dance benefits such as Fire Island Dance Festival and New York City’s Dance from the Heart.

Together, with Columbia County residents and longtime Broadway Cares supporters Erik Piecuch and Alex Wright, these gentlemen became the steering committee for the inaugural Hudson Valley Dance Festival. They helped recruit an active host committee – made up of residents in Columbia, Dutchess, Greene and Putnam counties, which also became integral in securing community support for this exciting new event.

"All the pieces came together exactly how we dreamed them happening," Whitley said. "It’s a real tribute to the spirit of our community that everyone responded so positively and enthusiastically. Every person at the festival was touched by what we saw onstage and experienced in the audience. Something genuinely special happened in the Hudson Valley and we all look forward to helping Hudson Valley Dance Festival grow for years to come."

Hudson Valley Dance Festival was sponsored by The New York Times, United Airlines, City National Bank and Catskill Mountain Foundation.

View the program from Hudson Valley Dance Festival.



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