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Black Tie International:
The 29th Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards

Jean Shafiroff, Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster, Berry Brown

Jean Shafiroff, Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster & Berry Brown

Director Joe Lanteri, Ava Astaire McKenzie, Corey Snide winner of the 1st Adele Astaire Scholarship

Director Joe Lanteri, Ava Astaire McKenzie, Corey Snide winner of the 1st Adele Astaire Scholarship

Astaire Awards Gala Co Chairs Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster, Bruce Michael , Carolyn Kendall Buchter

Astaire Awards Gala Co Chairs Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster,
Bruce Michael , Carolyn Kendall Buchter

Aaron Tveit, Heather Federman Honorary Chair Wendy Federman,  Best Male Dancer Norbert Leo Butz

Aaron Tveit, Heather Federman Honorary Chair Wendy Federman, 
& Best Male Dancer Norbert Leo Butz

Ethel Watt, Harry Haun, Patricia Watt

Ethel Watt, Harry Haun & Patricia Watt


The 29th Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards
Photos by:  Ann Watt


New York, May 15, 2011 - The 29th Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards, hosted by Bebe Neuwirth and Lee Roy Reams, at the magnificent Skirball Center for The Performing Arts at NYU once again honored excellence in dance and choreography on Broadway and in film. Susan Stroman took top honors for Best Choreographer on Broadway in a field of nine nominees for her stunning work in “The Scottsboro Boys”. It was a record breaking 5th Astaire Award for the 5 time Tony Award and 5 time Drama Desk winner. Two time Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth presented the award to Ms. Stroman. Sutton Foster star of “Anything Goes’ took home her second Astaire for Best Female Dancer on Broadway for her rousing performance as Reno Sweeney. Her first Astaire was for “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Desmond Richardson, Tony nominee for “Fosse” and co-founder and co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet presented the award to Ms. Sutton. First timer Norbert Leo Butz star of “Catch Me if You Can” took the prize for Best Male Dancer on Broadway presented by Tony and Drama Desk winner Karen Ziemba . Australia’s Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon won the Astaire for Excellence in Choreography in Film for their breathtaking dances in “Mao’s Last Dancer” presented by Tony Award winner Bill Irwin.


Legendary dancer, choreographer, teacher and founder of the National Dance Institute Jacques d’Amboise received the Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award named for the late drama critic and co-founder of the Award with Fred Astaire.


Following a major tribute in dance including a brilliant performance by Russell Janzen of a piece from the ballet “Who Cares’ created by George Balanchine and first danced by d’Amboise; an exuberant performance of “Shall We Dance” by d’Amboise’s students at the National Dance Institute  choreographed by Jacques’ son Christopher d’Amboise and praiseful tributes by Len Cariou, Charlotte D’Amboise, Christopher d’Amboise and Brian Stokes Mitchell, d’Amboise graciously accepted the award with a theatrical flourish and bow.


In an evening that both honored legends and showcased the current & next generation, The Astaires fittingly kicked off with a lush and romantic opening medley, a paean to dance, set to the songs “Dancing In The Dark”, “Come Dance With Me”, “Moondance” and “Let’s Face The Music and Dance” conceived by Joe Lanteri and choreographed by Melanie LaPatin of “So You Think You Can Dance’.  Lee Roy Reams, Shannon Lewis, Chester Gregory and Karen Ziemba provided the beautiful vocals while World Ballroom Dance Champion couples JT Thomas and Tomas Mielnicki, Eulia Baranovsky and Vladimir Popov, Iveta Lukosuite and Gherman Mustuc and Sarika Hudson and Nazar Batih swirled across the stage.

After the applause died down, the Awards co-founders - daughters and presenters - of the awards, Ava Astaire McKenzie and Patricia Watt warmly welcomed the guests and shared their mutual passion for continuing to preserve the great legacy of the Astaires. Both Ms. Watt and Ms. McKenzie shared loving memories of their fathers which touched the audience.

They were followed by Associate Produce noted choreographer  Bronwen Carson and Caryn Nadeau, Dance therapist who spoke movingly about the Dance & Movement Therapy programs for autistic and disabled children in New York public schools which the Awards gala benefits.

Tony Award winner Bill Irwin first doing an impromptu dance turn presented the Astaire for Excellence in Choreography in Film to Mao’s Last Dancer’s Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon.


The award presentation was followed with a dazzling guest performance by “Billy Elliot” star, Cesar Corrales. The acclaimed young dancer performed the show stopping dance number “Electricity”. Corrales currently starring in the show in Toronto had flown in especially for the occasion.



Next up was Astaire Awards director and Joe Lanteri, Founder/Executive Director of the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, one of the evening’s co-producers and beneficiaries. NYCDAF is dedicated to empowering the next generation of professional dancers by advocating education and offering scholarships for secondary and college training, so it was appropriate that Lanteri should introduce the 1st Adele Astaire Scholarship winner Corey Snide, the 17 year old former “Billy Elliot” star who was accepted to Julliard this fall.


Introducing him, Joe Lanteri, Executive Director NYC Dance Alliance Foundation noted, “As Ava Astaire mentioned earlier, together we’ve established a new scholarship, an award that bears the name of ‘Adele Astaire’….that will be given for the first time ever tonight… to a young man I first met when he was nine years old and training in a local studio in Albany. He has grown up through the NYC Dance Alliance. He’s now 17 and was just accepted to the Juilliard School for the fall of 2011.  This is someone we will all be keeping an eye on, for years to come”. Snide than whipped into a fast paced tap solo “Didn’t He Ramble” choreographed by Anthony Morigerato after which another famous tapper, Tony nominated actor, director and choreographer Maurice Hines presented him with the scholarship certificate.


Another highlight of the evening was the torrid performance of “Catch Me If You Can” star Rachelle Rak channeling her inner Marilyn Monroe in “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” choreographed by Joe Lanteri. Athletic young dancers Todd Burnsed, Jakob Karr, Grasan Kingsberry and Chase Madigan hoisted and swirled the glamorous Rak in dizzying spins.


The evening wrapped with a joyous, high voltage, energy-charged display by the young students of David Sanders Dynamic Dance Company performing “Stomp to My Beat” choreographed by Sanders. Dancers Lexie Buser, Alyssa DiOrio, Victoria Ferme, Ashley Fleischman, Krystal Fleischman, Jessica Flick, Gianna Fulciniti, Kristina Georgilis, Courtney Germano, Maeve Gesualdi, Taylor Graham, Alexis Griffith, Nicole Hoffmann, Lauren Holly, Ashley Howell, Justine Jordan, Maria Keuler, Vanessa Kwaak, Kourtney LaMantia, Victoria Marano, Ali Mosca, Deana Naja, Danielle Nigro, Julianne Perrone, Bianca Signorelli, Doniella Soriano, Madison Urraro, Angelica Venturella, Alyssa Vero and Jordan Lang brought the audience to their feet in a thunderous standing ovation.


VIP guests then proceeded up to the gorgeous atrium atop the Skirball Center for a dinner with the stars and a panoramic view of the city and a chance to view the silent auction organized by Kat Schaffer, Alix Michel & their committee and bid on luxury items such as an antique inspired necklace from BB Jewels Gramercy Park. The elegant setting was a location in which Adele & Fred would have felt most at home.


This year’s Nominating Committee was headed up by Chair Sylviane Gold. Committee members include Anna Kisselgoff, Damian Woetzel, Wendy Perron, Manny and Lani Azenberg, Donna McKechnie, Lee Roy Reams, Wendy Federman, Barbara and Buddy Freitag, Michael Riedel, Marge Champion, Margaret Selby, Melinda Atwood, Bryan Bantry, Adam Zotovich, Andy Sandberg and Bruce Michael.

The Awarding Committee included Sylviane Gold, Anna Kisselgoff, Wendy Perron, Lee Roy Reams and Damian Woetzel

The 2011 Fred & Adele Astaire Awards on May 15 presented by Ava Astaire and the Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts benefit dance education in public schools serving autistic and disabled children and The Adele Astaire Scholarship Fund for promising young dancers.

Executive Producer: Patricia Watt; Co-Producer: Joe Lanteri, New York City Dance Alliance; Associate Producer, Bronwen Carson.  Director is Joe Lanteri. Honorary Chairs are Judith Jamison and Wendy Federman Awards. Gala Co-Chairs are Carolyn Kendall Buchter, Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster and Bruce Michael. Benefit Co- Chairs are Sara Johnson Kaplan and Jamie Watkins


Gala Committee included Jennifer Bank, Raymond Capodanno, Joyce Chasen, Ursula Deljian, Victoria Detiger, Missy Echeverria, Elyse Emmer, Wendy Federman, Terri Gold, Regina Kravitz, Jacqueline Marks, Alix Michel, Coryn Nadeau, Melinda Paltrow, Nancy Pearson, Scott Perrin, Scarlett Pildes, Randi Rahm, Kat Schaffer, Jennifer Taylor and Andrew Wargo


Honorary Committee included Mr. and Mrs. Richard Adler, Jean Claude Baker, Bob Balaban, Marisa Berenson, Anna Bergman, Patricia Birch, Marge Champion, Arlene Dahl, Jacques D'Amboise, Gracielle Danielle, Eve Ensler, Jules Fisher, Mario Fratti, Mitzi Gaynor, Savion Glover, Joel Grey, Anne Jackson, Susan Jaffee, Arthur Laurents, Rob Marshall, Donna McKechnie, Joey McKneely, Jerry Mitchell, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Marsha Norman, Robert Osbourne, Jane Powell and Dick Moore ,Harold Prince, Rex Reed, Ann Reinking, Donald Saddler, Liz Smith, Richard Thomas, Sergio Trujillo, Karen Ziemba, Eli Wallach.   



Joyce Brooks

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