23rd Annual Fire Island Dance Festival Sizzles With Incredible Performances (and Breaks Fundraising Record)

Havana Cuba's Acosta Danza made its U.S. premiere, performing Nosotros, a piece about a the highs and lows of a couple in love. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

Overlooking the Great South Bay, the sunset was upstaged by the annual Fire Island Dance Festival's powerful dancing. The three sold-out shows featured performances from 10 companies, including five premieres, (one by ACE Award winner Al Blackstone) in styles ranging from Broadway to contemporary, and raised a record $585,045 for Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The special cultural event was hosted by Broadway's Cady Huffman, best known for her Tony-Award–winning performance as Ulla in The Producers. Huffman kicked off the show talking about her life as a dancer and working with legendary choreographers Tommy Tune and Bob Fosse, recalling when Fosse told her "just give me something!" Joking about her timidness early on in her career, she said, "something is what these dancers tonight are going to give you."

The night was hosted by Broadway's Cady Huffman. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

Peridance Contemporary Dance Performance started the night with an excerpt from Dia-Mono-Logues, choreographed by Igal Perry, a poignant modern piece expressing his turbulent time emigrating from Israel to New York in the 1970s. In an African-styled dance by EVIDENCE, A Dance Company, Keon Thoulouis performed an excerpt from New Conversations: Ochosi Is Here.

Peridance's Dia-Mono-Logues. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener performed an intricate contemporary duet, Desire Liar, choreographed by Mitchell and Reiner, who both previously danced with Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Mitchell and Riener. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

Created by artistic director Alexandre Hammoudi, Makers Dance Company premiered Tatakai, choreographed by Manuel Vignoulle. This athletic yet graceful piece, inspired by the great samurai battle of Sekigahara, featured an ensemble of six ABT corps de ballet members and Hammoudi, a soloist with ABT.

Makers Dance Company's Tatakai. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

The Miami City Ballet performed Chutes and Ladders, by Justin Peck, featuring performers Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello, and George Balanchine's "My One And Only" variation from Who Cares?, a solo performed by Delgado.

Chutes and Ladders, by Justin Peck, featuring performers Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

This year's performances not only featured incredible dancing, but several captured the marginalization and social constraints experienced by gay men and women. Pontus Lidberg Dance's A Different Passion, choreographed by Lidberg, is about two men helping each other for a moment in time.

Pontus Lidberg (right) performing with Barton Cowperthwaite. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

Broadway choreographer Lorin Lotarro, known for Waitress, premiered For Those Before, which captured the social restraints experienced by gay men and women.

Lorin Latarro's piece For Those Before, shed light on issues close to the event's core. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

Among the five premiers was a piece by choreographer Al Blackstone and Billy Griffin. In Blackstone's signature story-telling dance style, this sultry contemporary piece, set to Prince's How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore, featured American Ballet Theatre's James Whiteside.

Whiteside (left) dancing in Blackstone's piece. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of FIDF

For more information about Dancers Responding to AIDS, visit here.

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