Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Rioult Dance NY 2019 Spring Gala Honors Actress Kathleen Turner And Board Member Lisa Mueller

Rioult Dance NY 2019 Spring Gala Honors Actress Kathleen Turner And Board Member Lisa Mueller

RIOULT Dance NY's 2019 Spring Gala and Live Auction held on Wednesday, March 20, raised over $200,000 to benefit the creation of new Company works, a performance space and community arts programs.

Over 200 supporters from the worlds of business, entertainment, education and philanthropy gathered at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers to applaud the dancers' exquisite artistry and stunning athleticism. Against the backdrop of the Hudson River, the Company presented a repertoire of pop-up dance pieces during the cocktail hour, including an excerpt from "Fire in the Sky," Artistic Director-Choreographer Pascal Rioult's rock and roll piece set to the music of Deep Purple.

A live auction conducted by HUNT Auctioneers offered guests the opportunity to bid on items such as donated vacation homes, dinner prepared by Artistic Director Pascal Rioult at the home he shares with his wife, Associate Artistic Director Joyce Herring, behind-the-scenes access to Queens' most iconic cultural and entertainment venues, Opera tickets, gourmet dining, a cocktail party for 10 guests joined by 10 Company dancers, premium champagne/wines, and naming rights for seats in the Center's new performance hall.

The Gala Co-Chairs were Marianne Coughlin, Kate Davis, Gara LaMarche and Annie Phaosawasdi.

2019 Gala Honorees

Formally recognized for their generous support and passionate commitment to RIOULT Dance NY were Two-Time Golden Globe Best Actress Winner and Academy Award Nominee Kathleen Turner and RIOULT Board Member Lisa Mueller, Director of Development and Communications at Sanctuary for Families.

Kathleen Turner

In his remarks, RIOULT Dance NY Founder Pascal Rioult recalled his collaboration three years ago with the actress who has garnered critical acclaim for her performances in films including Body Heat (Golden Globe nomination); Romancing the Stone and Prizzi's Honor (Golden Globe Award for each); Peggy Sue Got Married (Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations); and The War of the Roses (Golden Globe nomination).

"With trepidation, I arranged a meeting with Kathleen to ask if she would play the role of the Narrator in 'WOMEN ON THE EDGE...Unsung Heroines of the Trojan War,' my trilogy of dances inspired by Euripides' tragic heroines Iphigenia, Helen of Troy and Cassandra. But she said, 'Yes,' right away and with enthusiasm. When I timidly whispered the word money, she graciously offered to donate her time and her talent!

"Kathleen then assisted me with the script that I had decided to write by myself, not being a playwright or Dramaturge. Once in the studio, she lent her great expertise to help with theater direction. Thus in a sense, she co-created the role that is the line throughout the piece -- AND performed it with us every night at the Joyce Theater amongst a group of delighted dancers who loved working with her and to this day adore her. The ballet would not be the same if Kathleen had not been there, and we will forever be in her debt. As a bonus, she made a recording of the narration so we are able to take that very distinctive husky voice with us in performances all over the world.

"Kathleen ... You have not only graced our stage with your star power, but also our Galas more than once. Even serenading us last year with your special rendition of It's Only A Paper Moon. So, it's time that we honor you as a way of collectively thanking you for your artistry and friendship."

Lisa Mueller

"Lisa first became involved with the Company in February 2000, as a young attorney at Cleary Gottlieb serving as our pro bono counsel," reminisced Joyce Herring, RIOULT Dance NY's Associate Artistic Director, Rehearsal Director and Ballet Mistress. "Her passion and enthusiasm for our modern dance work led her to join our Board in 2004, where her experience, dedication, warmth and collegiality have made her an invaluable member of the RIOULT family."

What has inspired the Gala 2019 honoree's continued involvement with RIOULT these past 19 years? In her own words, Lisa Mueller cited these three reasons:

  • "First, the dance company's magical and intoxicating art. I was moved by Pascal's work the first time I saw a performance - the sheer athleticism, the complex movement vocabulary, and the grounding in music such that it becomes inseparable with the dance. I have always respected athletes, and I have always loved music. Pascal's work for me is the perfect embodiment of both.

  • "The second reason is the people. Pascal and Joyce are simply magnificent human beings, and they have created a community that is infectious. From the dancers, to our staff, to our Board, to the many MANY dedicated RIOULT enthusiasts, this is a tightly knit universe. And a universe that is a joy to inhabit.

  • "And finally, it's the vision. The bold, brave, beautiful vision. This is an entrepreneurial company, led by a bold and visionary choreographer. Pascal moved continents to follow his passion for dance. He boldly left the Martha Graham Company to found his own, and to find his own choreographic voice. And now he and Joyce have boldly launched a Dance Center in Queens, bearing his name and his vision for bringing together company, community, and professional dance education of the highest caliber."

Sara Seger: A RIOULT Dancer's Testimonial

"Eight years ago, I was lucky enough to be hired as a dancer for this company at the young, naïve and ignorant age of 19. Why Pascal {Rioult} and Joyce {Herring} decided to take such a risk is still a mystery to me, and I'm sure it was to the rest of the company when this 'child' appeared in rehearsal with foot pajamas, giant penguin slippers, and a tin Wizard of Oz lunch box.

"Let me know tell you, I knew nothing. During my first year, and actually within my first week, I unintentionally kicked and punched several dancers...HARD, knocked over a chair during my first European performance of Les Noces, and had my hat fly off my head and into the audience,

"Nevertheless, I spent day after day trying my absolute best to emulate what the other elegant and strong dancers possessed technically and artistically. I made every attempt to apply every single correction, critique or piece of advice that came not only from Pascal and Joyce, but from each of the dancers....whispering, or even sometimes shouting, to me on the sidelines.

"Fast forward eight years ... and it is nearly impossible to describe what these past years have meant to me. Performing with this company is like a dream come true. From the stunning and glamorous opera houses in Europe to the Universities and Community Colleges across America. Words cannot express the feeling one has when performing in front of thousands of people who don't even speak English, an audience of family and friends or, my personal favorite - hundreds and hundreds of children. And yet, they all understand. Sharing this universal language of dance through Pascal's vision has been and always will be remarkable.

"Now this vision, this creativity and passion, has a home. No longer are we traveling around New York City, from studio to studio, borough to borough, carrying all of our gear and hoping that we show up at the right building that day. Now, because of the RIOULT Dance Center new and first home in Astoria's Kaufman Arts District, Pascal's work and our tremendous love for this art form is more grounded, more real than ever before.

"Yet what I have truly gained through my years in this organization goes beyond the stage and the studio. What RIOULT has given me is much deeper than any technical exercise or any dance step rehearsed again and again. It's more important than any count, any artistic intention, or any costume. Being a member of this company has taught me about humility. How to recover onstage when you fall, how to face your imperfections head on every day, and how to leave everything you may be dealing with in your personal life at the door. "It's not about you," Joyce and Pascal always say, "It's about the audience."

"This company has taught me about relentless and tireless dedication. Through years of blood, sweat, tears, corrections, and the days where we are convinced we won't make it through Bolero...from the early morning school shows, to the bus rides when Joyce gives notes from the performance the night before, and the 45+ hours I spent with Pascal creating my Cassandra solo in a barn, this company has redefined my idea of discipline. The passion, focus and overall commitment to this work, from the dancers and staff alike, is unstoppable and awe-inspiring.

"Last but certainly not least, dancing for this company has taught me about the importance and absolute necessity of teamwork. Through thick and thin, the dancers of this company have each other's backs, literally and figuratively. We are one team with one dream, in it to win it, no matter what. Whether someone is injured, sick, or stuck in California because of a crazy storm, this group of dancers understands and relies on not only being a team, but a family. I cannot think of many other organizations with which this is such a key element to their success, and as Pascal and Joyce always say, it shows on stage. To all of my fellow dancers, past and present, I am so lucky to dance with each of you. You are my family, and I love you.

"So although "Smoke on the Water" will never sound the same to us or the fact that I won't be able to hear Kathleen Turner's voice without thinking it's time to get into a cage, I would not change a single thing about who I was then, and who I am now. RIOULT Dance NY has defined my morals, instilled a work ethic that I will carry throughout my life, and transformed me into the woman I am today.

"Joyce told us recently that as dancers we are not trying to aim for perfection, but rather we are aiming to be our most perfect selves. Being a member of this company has inspired me to embrace every day as an opportunity to become my most perfect self, on stage and a dancer, co-worker, friend, artist, and human....for the rest of my days. For that, and so much more, I am eternally grateful to be a RIOULT Dancer and I cannot thank you enough for your continued support to the place we are lucky enough to call home."

About Pascal Rioult

Born in Caen, France, Mr. Rioult came to the United States on a fellowship from the French Ministry of Culture to study modern dance in 1981. After performing with the companies of May O'Donnell and Paul Sanasardo he was invited to join the Martha Graham Dance Company. He interpreted many of the most prestigious roles in the Graham repertory as a principal dancer, and in 1990, Ms. Graham created the central role (Death Figure) in her ballet "Eyes of the Goddess" for him. Mr. Rioult performed opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov and Joyce Herring in "El Penitente," and was featured in two television specials: "Martha Graham in Japan" and "Five Dances by Martha Graham" filmed at the Paris Opera.

Since starting his own company, RIOULT Dance NY in 1994, Mr. Rioult has dedicated his energies to developing his own choreographic style and nurturing a robust ensemble of dancers. Of his work, "Black Diamond," Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times wrote, "...he has met the challenge of comparison with George Balanchine."

Mr. Rioult's works have been commissioned by the American Dance Festival; Cal Performances Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA; the Ballet du Nord in Roubaix, France; the Geneva Ballet, Switzerland; The Orchestra of St. Luke's; the Gordon & Harriet Greenfield Foundation; the Grand Marnier Foundation; the Theatre de Saint Quentin en Yvelines France; Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA; and Marymount Manhattan College; among others. He is a two-time recipient of the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography.

About RIOULT Dance NY

Founded in 1994, RIOULT Dance NY fast became an established name in modern dance with a reputation for presenting the sensual, articulate, and exquisitely musical works of Pascal Rioult. The New York City-based dance company presents an annual New York season, tours nationally and internationally, conducts extensive in-school arts education and community outreach programs, and offers dance training to the public through classes, workshops, and intensives.

Extraordinary for an organization its size, RIOULT Dance NY is highly committed to its dancers, providing steady employment and year-round health insurance. Each dancer's creative development is fostered through training classes, teaching opportunities, and challenging repertory while maintaining comprehensive rehearsal and performance schedules. The company is fortunate to have welcomed new dancers over the years and retained many, some of whom have danced with the company for over a decade.

RIOULT Dance NY has performed in theaters and festivals throughout North America including New York City Center Fall for Dance (New York, NY), Lincoln Center Out-of- Doors (New York, NY), American Dance Festival (Raleigh NC), the Annenberg Center (Philadelphia, PA), the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (West Palm Beach, FL), and Zellerbach Hall (Berkeley, CA), among others. Widespread international touring has brought the company to Pascal Rioult's homeland of France for the Cannes International Festival, Danse a Aix, Festival du Val du Marne, Temps le Danse Festival, Paris Opera Bastille, and La Maison de la Danse, as well as to the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts (Bermuda), the Tamaulipas International Festival (Mexico), Le Grand Theatre De Quebec (Canada), and the stages of Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and others worldwide.

RIOULT Dance NY is dedicated to the creation and performance of the exquisitely musical works of Pascal Rioult. The New York City-based dance company presents an annual New York season, tours internationally, conducts extensive in-school arts education and community outreach programs, and offers dance training to the public through classes, workshops, and intensives. Education and community outreach have been integral to RIOULT Dance NY since its inception. RIOULT's arts education program, DanceREACH, offers an interactive approach to introducing students to the world of modern dance. It has impacted thousands of students and community members at home, in the U.S., and abroad. Ongoing relationships with schools in New York City and the metropolitan area allow the Company to continually inspire new generations of dancers and audiences.

In October 2018, RIOULT opened the RIOULT Dance Center in Astoria's Kaufman Arts District. The beautiful new Steinway Street facility features four fully equipped rehearsal studios-the largest will convert into a state-of-the-art performance space with seating for over 100 audience members. At the Center, people of all ages and abilities - from the novice to the professional - can participate in over 60 weekly classes in dance and dance-related fitness disciplines ranging from ballet and modern to hip hop and capoeira. The Center also offers much-needed rental space for dancers, choreographers, other performing artists and community groups. The RIOULT Dance Center provides a gateway into the dance community and a place where everyone who wants to experience the joy of dance can have that opportunity.


Related Articles View More Dance Stories

More Hot Stories For You