On March 12, the New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) Foundation celebrated awarding over $1.9 million in college scholarships over the years with a fundraising performance at New York City’s Joyce Theater. The Destiny Rising event featured performances by BalletNext, The Chase Brock Experience, Mark Stuart Dance Theatre and more, and in total, the Foundation awarded an additional $130,000 to 16 high school juniors and seniors with scholarship money to be applied to the college of their choice.
“I am especially proud that every scholarship recipient feels ‘love and support’ from NYCDA,” says Joe Lanteri, executive director of NYCDA. “Naturally, the money is needed to help fund their education. But the continued guidance and professional resources that NYCDA can offer is perhaps even more valuable. $130,000 in one day is an achievement. But truthfully, the dancers were deserving of so much more.”
Many of the scholarship recipients say they are grateful for the NYCDA Foundation and the opportunities it lends to aspiring dancers.
Seventeen-year-old Makenzie Stratton from Tempe, Arizona, plans to use the award to further her dance education and will be applying to University of Southern California, Southern Methodist University and The University of Arizona. “The NYCDA Foundation allows dancers, such as myself, to pursue opportunities that otherwise may not be possible without their support,” she says. “Because of the generosity of Joe Lanteri, the NYCDA Foundation and the NYCDA team, I am able to pursue my lifelong dream of getting a college education and furthering my career in the dance community.”
Likewise, 17-year-old recipient Maddie Obregon of Tampa, Florida, says, “The NYCDA Foundation makes it possible for young dancers to pursue their dreams and continue their education, when it seems like a dream. With the NYCDA Foundation, many of my friends and I have learned so much, and it inspires us to give back in any way we can.”
Julian Elia, a second-year Juilliard student, plans to put his $12,000 scholarship toward finishing his BFA. “I think that the NYCDA Foundation is a wonderful organization because it exposes dancing teenagers to the world beyond convention classes, whether that be a schooling problem, the concert dance world or the Broadway world.”
Lanteri says he’s confident that all the scholarship recipients will step into professional performance careers in years to come. “It’s already happened with past recipients, now represented in both the professional concert and Broadway arenas,” he explains. “NYCDA and the Foundation work to give these dancers both the financial support and life skills that empower them to build their own success. At the end of the day, we hope to nurture great people, who are also great dancers.”
At the Destiny Rising event, former New York City Ballet principal Robbie Fairchild spoke with passion about Lanteri and the efforts of the NYCDA Foundation. “I am always so blown away by the work that you do,” he remarked. “You allow these young dancers to reach their goals, their dreams, and they do it with that 100 percent that you taught them to do it with.”
The Foundation has been doing work like this since its inception in 2010, and Lanteri seems to show no signs of stopping. “I think there is a great moment when the audience realizes they are watching their donation dollars at work,” he shares. “Virtually every dollar donated to the NYCDA Foundation contributes to a scholarship for a deserving teenager. At each of our events, the stage is filled with first-time recipients, as well as past NYCDAF success stories, now living their dreams. Collectively, we are all truly changing and impacting young lives!”
For more information on the NYCDA Foundation, visit www.nycdance.com.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.