Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised

Fire Island Dance Festival returned for its 21st edition July 17-19, 2015, with some of the most talked-about world-class dance companies, raising a record-breaking $544,555 for Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The festival, performed outdoors on the picture-perfect shores of the Great South Bay in Fire Island Pines, included the world premieres of five works. Scroll down for photos from the performances!

Since the festival began in 1995, 51 new works have had their premieres at Fire Island Dance Festival (#fidance). Featuring an exquisite lineup of dancers, choreographers and generous supporters, the festival set a fundraising record for the fifth year in a row, besting last year's total of $533,860. In its 21 editions, Fire Island Dance Festival has raised more than $4.3 million to help ensure that those in need have access to lifesaving medications, counseling, healthy meals and emergency financial assistance.

This year's sold-out festival was hosted by Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-founder Desmond Richardson, a former principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a Tony Award nominee for Fosse.

The festival's five premieres were choreographed by Al Blackstone, a New York-based Capezio A.C.E. Award winner; Charlie Williams, a Broadway performer and rising choreographer whose work has been seeing on the Academy Awards, Tony Awards and NBC's Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!; Manuel Vignoulle, a French choreographer who has danced with Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet; Joshua Beamish, who just finished working with former New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan on her well-received Restless Creature; and Pontus Lidberg, a renowned Swedish choreographer, actor, dancer and filmmaker.

The 21st edition of Fire Island Dance Festival featured 43 professional dancers entertaining three sold-out crowds with Broadway, ballet, contemporary and modern dance. The festival featured these remarkable performances:

• Ailey II stunned the audience with "Shaking Duet," an energetic piece choreographed by Vignoulle that told the story of people trying to break through the heavy weight of conventional behavior and morals.

• In Williams' dream-like Rise, 2010 Tony Award nominee Karine Plantadit, surrounded by six bare-chested male dancers, followed one woman's journey from this world to the next set to the celebratory sounds of Delta Rae's "Dance in the Graveyards."

• In a captivating solo, Clifford Williams created an onstage fantasy to the sounds of Bach's "Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue." Sending his lithe body through elegant contemporary ballet movements, Williams lost himself in a world of love created by legendary choreographer Dwight Rhoden.

• Pontus Lidberg Dance presented the world premiere of another number created for the festival. Backed by a percussive soundtrack, Lidberg and Boston Ballet Principal Paulo Arrais created an intimate, kinetic conversation between their sinewy bodies.

• Effortlessly gliding across the stage, the elegant men of Ballet Hispanico donned bowler hats and colorful jeans for the intricate and explosive Sombreri?simo, a piece that contrasted the men dancing for the audience and for themselves. The creative number paid homage to the surrealist world of Belgian painter Rene? Magritte, famous for his paintings of men in bowler hats.

• Beamish premiered Stay, a stunning, sensual dance that followed a relationship suspended in space and time. The emotional duet was performed by Dimitri Kleioris, who danced with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and is part of the cast of the upcoming Starz miniseries Flesh and Bone, and Stephanie Williams, a member of the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre.

• 10 Hairy Legs showcased Bud, an engaging male duet with intricate partnering expertly handled by Alex Biegelson and Nicholas Sciscione and set to "Oh What a World," by Rufus Wainwright and Maurice Joseph Ravel. Bud was originally performed by Stephen Petronio Company.

• Vignoulle, one of the most sought-after dancer/choreographers today, premiered a contemporary male duet with Isaies Santamaria. Shifting Shadow layered a texture of static music with an athletic dance that illustrated a man scared by his own reflection and shadow.

• Mary Carmen Catoya and Kleber Rebello, former and current principals with Miami City Ballet respectively, captivated the audience with a classical pas de deux from La Esmeralda, the story of a beautiful gypsy girl and her love for a man who is not her husband.

• Broadway's Blackstone closed the show with the premiere of his comedic Not for Me, a piece that follows a young man looking for love in all the wrong places. Set to the music of crooner Bobby Darin, his adventure takes him from Zen yoga to a sexy steam room before he ultimately settles for the love of one particularly cheerful dog.

Intermezzo Dance Company kicked off the festival on Friday, July 17, with an enchanting tale of secret romance and desire, choreographed by Duncan Lyle, a member of American Ballet Theatre's corps de ballet. This exclusive performance, sponsored by DIRECTV, was part of the opening event for the festival's Leadership Supporters.

For more information, please visit Dancers Responding to AIDS at dradance.org.

Photo Credits: Whitney Browne and Daniel Roberts

high res photos

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Pontus Lidberg Dance

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Mary Carmen Catoya and Kleber Rebello

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Manuel Vignoulle Dance

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Joshua Beamish

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Desmond Richardson

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Clifford Williams

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Charlie Williams, choreography

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Ballet Hispanico

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Al Blackstone, choreography

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Ailey II

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
10 Hairy Legs

Photo Flash: 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival Breaks Records with Nearly $545K Raised
Fire Island Dance Festival 2015 cast

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