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Many of this morning's students outside the "GMA" studios with the five teachers in the front row. Chava Lansky.

At 6:30 this morning, I exited the subway in Times Square and walked towards the group of dancers gathered outside the "Good Morning America" studios. The moment I entered the fray, any lingering early morning grogginess disappeared; the energy in the crowd was palpable. By 7 am, the time that "GMA" goes live to millions nationwide, over 300 dancers of all stripes had gathered, and class began.

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Al Blackstone's Not For Me

For its 21st annual gathering in July, the Fire Island Dance Festival raised a record-breaking $544,555 for Dancers Responding to AIDS. Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-founder Desmond Richardson hosted the festival this year, which included world premieres by Al Blackstone (winner of the 2011 Capezio A.C.E. Award), Joshua Beamish, Pontus Lidberg, Charlie Williams and Manuel Vignoulle.

The Fire Island Dance Festival is an annual fundraising event for the nonprofit organization Dancers Responding to AIDS. Former Paul Taylor Dance Company members Denise Roberts Hurlin and Hernando Cortez founded DRA in 1991 to raise money and awareness for those with HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, the festival has raised more than $4.3 million for DRA.

Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of DRA

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