American Repertory Ballet Hosts Annual Gala Tonight

Tonight, March 21, 2015, American Repertory Ballet will hold its annual Gala performance and reception, The Dream, in downtown New Brunswick, NJ. The performance will begin at 6:00pm at Crossroads Theater, and the reception will begin at 7:00pm across the street at the Heldrich Hotel. The reception will include a gourmet dinner, dancing to the music of The Kenny i Orchestra, auctions, and more. Free valet parking will be provided. Princeton Ballet School students ages 12-18 years can enjoy a Junior Gala party with dinner, dancing and silent auction, also at the Heldrich Hotel.

The Dream Gala will honor 30 years of Gala Leadership and Rider University's Westminster College of the Arts, the 2015 recipient of the Audrée Estey Award for Excellence in Dance Education.

Since the organization's first Gala in 1985, this signature fundraising event continues to celebrate and showcase the three branches of the organization: New Jersey's preeminent professional ballet company; its official school, Princeton Ballet School, one of the largest non-profit dance schools in the country; and ARB's Access & Enrichment programming, with performances by scholarship recipients from the organization's signature DANCE POWER residency in the New Brunswick school district. Over the past 30 years, Gala leaders and volunteers have included board members, Princeton Ballet School parents, and friends of the organization.

The following names represent 30 years of American Repertory Ballet Gala Leadership:Shirley Abelson, Andrea Bradley, Dorothy Cummings, Lisa de Ravel (2015 Gala Co-Chair), Hedy Disimoni, Jennifer Faber, Jane Factor, Cherie Finn, Linda Gecha, Lynne Harwood, Wendy Heiser, Debbie Lescroat, Karen Lewis, Nancy MacMillan, Diane Melodia, Polly Moles, Jo-Ann Munoz, Nora Orphanides, Kimberlee Phelan, Victoria Piersol, Rosalie Puzio, Dina Robinson, Anna Salvadore, Tracey Simon, Joyce Stahl, Elly Stevens, Carol Washington, Barbara Wineski, and Mary Anne Young.

"Three decades of past gala chairs demonstrates a true community commitment to the growth of American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School," says ARB Executive Director and Gala 2015 Co-Chair Vanessa Logan. "We could not be more grateful to those who laid the foundation and to those whose continued hard work has kept this Gala as ARB's primary fundraiser, which helps underwrite: the creation of new works for the professional company, scholarships for Princeton Ballet School students, and the organization's continued community engagement throughout the state of New Jersey."

Princeton Ballet School's partnership with Rider University's Westminster College of the Arts began twenty years ago when Princeton Ballet School Director Mary Pat Robertson and then Chair of Rider University's Fine Arts Department Dr. Patrick Chmel negotiated a collaboration agreement. The collaboration has since thrived under the leadership of Dr. Kim Chandler Vaccaro, Associate Professor of Dance/Director of the Rider University Dance Program, tenured faculty member at Rider, and long-time teacher at Princeton Ballet School.

"Princeton Ballet School's partnership with Rider University has proved incredibly fruitful," says Princeton Ballet School Director Mary Pat Robertson. "The collaboration has come to include a fall residency with American Repertory Ballet, an annual Choreographic Competition, and hundreds of happy alums who have taken class at Princeton Ballet School as part of the dance studies at Rider. It has allowed both organizations to extend the reach and scope of their programs, and of our mutual appreciation of the place that the arts have in education." Patrick Chmel, Kim Vaccaro, and Donna Jean Fredeen, Provost of Rider, will be in attendance at The Dream Gala.

This year, the Junior Gala will celebrate its 10-year anniversary. Through this unique annual event, young Princeton Ballet School students form a committee and learn valuable skills in event organization, marketing, communication, and public speaking.

"I have facilitated the Junior Gala Committee for all ten years of the event," says The Dream Gala co-chair Lisa de Ravel. de Ravel is a former ARB dancer and Princeton Ballet School faculty member who now serves as Dean of Students and Alumni Relations Corodinator. "Every year I am impressed with the sense of initiative and mature responsibility that Princeton Ballet School students have exhibited in their roles as committee members. It has been a joy watching these young dancers work towards a fabulous party, year after year!"

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