*Evidence, a Dance Company is widely known for its eclectic blend of African, modern, ballet and social dance styles to tell stories about the human experience. Each year, the premium dance company hosts an annual gala with proceeds supporting Evidence’s mission to promote understanding of the African Diaspora through dance, music and storytelling.
Evidence, A Dance Company hosted its ninth annual gala on Monday, March 25, 2013 at the grand Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue where the ultimate dance company paid tribute to the life and legacy of Beth Young, a dance enthusiast and long-time supporter of Evidence, A Dance Company, and recognized Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Valentino D. Carlotti for supporting the arts and community outreach.
This year’s gala chair, the always stylishly attired Reginald Van Lee, executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton and chairman emeritus of the board of Evidence, A Dance Company, set the tasteful tone for this always glamorous gala donning a designer’s tux and bowtie. Some 300 refined guests from the arts and entertainment industry and business community followed suit as they too were dressed to the nines in fabulous black tie attire. Special mention to the classy ladies who wore stunning evening gowns.
Host Lynn Whitfield bedazzled the crowd wearing a yellow chiffon gown with matching scarf. The gorgeous actress was having her own ball as host and chided Evidence’s board for not having had her as host before now. “What took you so long,” she asked to the amusement of the crowd. Their wild applause confirmed that she was doing a great job and should be invited back. Van Lee could be heard commenting from his seat that she had earned his vote of confidence.
The exhilarating evening began with a chic cocktail reception, followed by a formal dinner, and two special dance performances by Evidence topped off with dessert and guests busting loose on the dance floor during Evidence’s “Dancing with the Dancers” signature event. The evening also featured “Evidence After Dark,” a young patron reception.
Goldman, Sachs & Co. was presented with the 2013 corporate philanthropy award for their support of the arts and commitment to building and stabilizing communities. Valentino D. Carlotti, partner and head of Goldman Sachs’ Securities Division Institutional Client Group, accepted the award on behalf of the global investment banking and securities firm. “Goldman Sachs and its people are committed to helping communities where we work and live, where ideas, people and resources can make a difference,” said Van Lee who presented the award to Carlotti.
In a moving tribute to the legacy of Beth Young, Evidence founder and artistic director Ronald K. Brown presented Karin Young, twin sister of Beth, with the posthumous 2013 community activist award. Beth studied with the dance company for over 15 years before losing her battle with cancer on January 6, 2012.
Choreographed by internationally-acclaimed Brown in Young’s honor and in homage to other friends and family who have passed away, Evidence dancers performed the deeply spiritual work, Torch, to the music of various artists including DJ Zinhle. The gifted dance company under the tantalizing direction of Brown is composed of Arcell Cabuag (associate artistic director/dancer); Clarice Young (rehearsal director/dancer); and dancers Shayla Alayre Caldwell, Maresa D’Amore-Morrison, Coral Dolphin, Solomon Dumas, Otis Donovan Herring and Annique S. Roberts.
Ace auctioneerist to stellar soirees and iconic fashionista Audrey Smaltz conducted the live and bricks and mortar auction had guests participating in bidding wars to win classic items such as private dinners, tickets to a taping of BET’s “Black Girls Rock 2013,” and a shadow day with Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine, among others. The always sharp and witty Smaltz raised an additional $56,000 to support the dance company. Kudos to Shanta Bryant Gyan of SBG Communications for a beautifully fashioned evening of jubilation.
Director Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee served as honorary chairs. Gala sponsors included Goldman, Sachs & Co., The Reginald Van Lee Foundation, Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida, Alvin Adell, MD, BET Networks, and Larry Satterfield and Sabir Amen.
Evidence board members include Ronald K. Brown (president), Zaid Abdul-Aleem (chairman), Larry Satterfield (treasurer), Gail Monroe-Perry (secretary), Reginald Van Lee (chairman emeritus), Alvin Adell, Dwayne Ashley, Monica F. Azare, Reginald Canal, Spike Lee, Leslie Mays, James Sullivan, Jocelyn Taylor and Dr. Ancy Verdier.
Special guests included actress Tamara Tunie and jazz musician Gregory Generet; opera singers Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle; and R&B singer Freddie Jackson. Some of the gala attendees were Peg Alston & Willis Burton; Judia Black; Yolanda & Alvin Brown; Daniel & Alicia Bythewood with daughter Brie; Glenn E. Davis; Allen Harvey; Michael Heningburg & Dr. Jeanine Downie; Loida Nicolas Lewis; Fred Love; Gail Monroe-Perry & Robert Perry; Annette Mitchell Scott; Susan L. Taylor & Khephra Burns; Tawana Tibbs & Bruce Gordon; Dwayne Ashley & Amery Moultry; Donna Williams; Joyce Mullins Jackson; Andrea Hoffman; Noel Hankin; and investment bankers Chris & Janice Savin Williams. (Photos by Getty Images for Evidence, A Dance Company)
About Evidence, A Dance Company
Founded in 1985 by internationally-acclaimed choreographer Ronald K. Brown, Evidence, A Dance Company’s mission is to promote understanding of the human experience in the African Diaspora through dance and storytelling and to provide sensory connections to history and tradition through music, movement and spoken word leading deeper into issues of spirituality, community responsibility and liberation. For more information, please visit www.evidencedance.com.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.