Most studio owners who’ve attended a New York City Dance Alliance competition or convention know that the organization’s foundational arm gives out oodles of college scholarship money every year. That’s what makes an event like “Destiny Rising,” which happened last night at The Joyce Theater in New York City, so special. Amidst truly fantastic performances from professional companies and studios alike, a handful of dancers go home with thousands of dollars for their college dance educations.
Last night, NYCDA director Joe Lanteri announced that the foundation has given away $22 million in scholarships to date (!). He called onstage several dancers who had auditioned and gave out awards of $8,000, $12,000 and $16,000. That’s not chump change, people. Those are some lucky—and unbelievably talented—kids.
It’s the performances that make the evening for me, though. Many familiar faces were behind the numbers I saw: Rachel Kreiling choreographed the opening, and Desmond Richardson performed a solo by Dwight Rhoden, Imprint/Maya. Kreiling’s choreography felt mature for such young dancers, but they were pulling off complicated lifts and careful canons with ease. And Richardson continues to be an unmatched performer: His dynamics, focus, intricacy (not to mention the discipline inherent in his dancer’s body) are—and I don’t use this word lightly—mesmerizing.
The real showstopper of the night was David Parsons’ excerpt of Swing Shift (2002). It requires the eight dancers involved to have impeccable timing to a very fast score, but you could see that, despite the swift pace and how much movement was packed into each count, they were truly enjoying themselves. (In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw one dancer get kicked in the head by another just before the piece’s end, and they both laughed it off, mid-phrase.)
Congratulations to all the dancers who walked away with scholarships last night!