A PANEL ON THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER
TURNS INTO MORE THAN JUST A HALF-CENTURY OF REMINISCENCES...
With Bob Avian, Baayork Lee, Kelly Bishop, Larry Fuller, Margo Sappington and Alice Playten.
Moderated by FOLLIES veteran and dancer extraordinaire, Harvey Evans.
And also… DO40 MEMBERS and Friends Carolyn Kirsch, Dottie Frank Danner, Steve Boockvor, Nancy Dalton, Karin Baker, Rita O’Connor, Joy Serio Dunbar.
“Last night was triumphant! Seeing divine former students, like Baayork Lee, friends, like Steve Boockvor and Elvind Harum, and the program itself, brilliantly thought out, perfectly executed. Plus something magical, it thrust me into the dance world one generation after my own, the taking over of Broadway by my students, dancing better than I could dream of. Last night replays in my brain, an endless loop of delight." -- warmly, Stuart Hodes
Bob Avian, Larry Fuller, Kelly Bishop, Margo Sappington Joy Serio Dunbar, Baayork Lee,
Karin Baker, Alice Playten, Rita O’Connor, Dorothy Frank Danner, Steve Boockvor,
Carolyn Kirsch and moderator Harvey Evans. (Nancy Dalton absent)
There actually WERE more Michael Bennett dancers in the audience than onstage Monday, May 17th at St. Luke’s Theatre, when Dancers Over 40 presented its Spring panel event on the director/choreographer. People flew in from London, Los Angeles and Las Vegas (and probably more places we don’t know about!) to witness this reunion/get-together/lovefest. The History, Legacy and Lives of all these dancers were truly inspiring. And the stories! Worth waaaay more than the price of admission! We HAD to end at 11pm, but we could have continued indefinitely!
Panel #1, with Bob Avian, Baayork Lee, Larry Fuller, Joy Serio Dunbar, Alice Playten,
Margo Sappington, Nancy Dalton, Karin Baker, Carolyn Kirsch and Moderator Harvey Evans
Moderator Harvey Evans navigated the theatrical waters of Michael’s career, first as a performer in West Side Story, and on to A Joyful Noise and through to Ballroom. Bob Avian handsomely guided the panel along and supplied endless anecdotes – and CORRECTIONS – to some Bennett myths! Kelly Bishop and Baayork Lee spoke of Michael’s generosity, while others his sense of humor – and much more (you had to be there…!).
Michael supported his dancers and helped them to continue and some, to bigger and better things, like choreographer Margo Sappington. Baayork has continued Michael’s Legacy to this day, as has Bob Avian, making sure his and Bennett’s work will continue to be seen.
A Standing ovation at the end of Panel 2 – and the evening – for Bob Avian.
Onstage are Margo Sappington, Kelly Bishop, Karin Baker, Joy Serio Dunbar,
Larry Fuller, Steve Boockvor, Rita O’connor Dottie Frank Danner,
Carolyn Kirsch and part of Harvey Evans!
Michael’s childhood friend from Buffalo was in the audience -- Jack Greenan, who has known Michael since he was 5 years old and danced with him on the local Buffalo TV station, where at 12 years old, Michael choreographed the teen show there. There were clips from Hullabaloo, Henry, Sweet Henry, Promises, Promises, Coco, Follies and, of course, A Chorus Line. Comedian Seth Rudetsky also appeared, to “deconstruct” the "Turkey Lurkey" from Promises, Promises, and had the audience laughing out loud about all those “head pops” in the number, not to mention the incredibly exacting and furiously driven “propeller arms” of Donna McKechnie!
It was a fitting and fabulous end to a great DO40 season that began with The Unsinkable Peter Gennaro, and on to our first DO40 Legacy Awards and DO40 CARES dance concert to Benefit Project Achieve and BC/EFA. All this, friends and members, available because of your dues and donations. We simply cannot do it alone! Our newsletter, website, youtube channel and facebook page take hundreds of hours of (wo)manpower! And most of it is volunteer. But there are costs involved, and we thank Bob Avian for his recent generous donation to DO40 – and also announce his inclusion on our DO40 Advisory Board. Thank you again, Bob!
This is one event that the Jerome Robbins Dance Collection at Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts will savor for years to come!
Check out www.facebook.com/dancersover40 for over 130 of them!