Difference Makers: Special dance events will benefit performers struggling during pandemic


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Broadway and the ballet are back… for a limited time as part of a benefit to help those sidelined by the pandemic.

Performers tell WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman that they can’t wait for the upcoming events.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said dancer Jesse La Protto.

Melissa Gernstein, a dance activist who help found iHeartDanceNYC, says they have been counting down the moments until they can return to the stage.

“Because this is what they were born to do. It’s in their DNA,” she said.

For the first time in more than a year, dancers will take to the stage again for a 4-performance series to celebrate and support the dance artists of New York City.

“We are doing a kickoff event on April 11, on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel, with four performances every other hour,” Gernstein explains.

“This series will welcome an intimate audience to bring live dance back to our City in a safe and comfortable environment. The performances will feature New York’s biggest dance stars from American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Ballet, Tap, Broadway, and more to celebrate artistry, diversity, and resilience—and to bring awareness to the dance community’s commitment to their craft,” iHeartDanceNYC said on its website.

Gernstein says it’s crucial to support these artists, as they have suffered immensely during the pandemic.

“The financial impact on these dancers, and performing artists, is just even so hard to talk about,” she said.

La Protto says if many aren’t dancing, they’d may be working in a restaurant, or another type of customer service job – but the pandemic took those opportunities away too.

“We’ve seen a lot of darkness. And when it comes to the arts, dance, you name it – I feel like we’re able to come together, and sometimes that light is able to shine straight down on us,” La Protto said.

He Is among the stars of Broadway and New York City ballet dancers tuning up at Open Jar studios in Midtown prior to the event.

The group says they are buzzing with excitement and cannot wait to return to the stage.

All proceeds from this series will be allocated towards the iHeartDanceNYC Fund, where dancers can apply for financial assistance.

For ticket information, or to donate to the cause, visit iHeartDanceNYC.com.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Mike Sugerman