When Liza Minnelli presented the Rolex Dance Award to her friend Ann-Margret at last night’s Career Transition for Dancers (CTFD) gala, the Cabaret leading lady was in her classic state of flustered excitement. “I can’t believe we’re both still doing this,” she said, embracing the star of over 50 films, including Tommy, Viva Las Vegas and Any Given Sunday. “I can’t believe we’re both still alive,” Ann-Margret, 72, said, both ladies’ sequins glittering. “When I did Bye Bye Birdie I didn’t need glasses,” the song-and-dance star continued. She unfolded her notes but ad-libbed most of her acceptance speech, wooing the crowd into adoring her, a talent that has shaped her career and earned her invitations to perform at the White House and for armed forces overseas during the Vietnam War.
She thanked Career Transition for Dancers for being a resource to performers who are ready, “for whatever reason, to hang up their dancing shoes.” CTFD provides education, counseling and funding to help dancers begin new professions. The evening’s performances included testimonials from CTFD alumni—one-time professional dancers who have become movement therapists, visual artists, Pilates teachers, writers and more. Celebrity dancers and actors also took the stage, from Jason Samuels Smith, Jimmy Tate and tapper-turned-actor Dulé Hill to Rosie O’Donnell and Kelly Bishop. “I’ll treasure this night—and this beautiful watch—forever,” Ann-Margret said.
For more information on resources offered by Career Transition for Dancers, visit careertransition.org.
Photos by Annie Watt, courtesy of CTFD