NYCDA Foundation’s Bright Lights Gala

NYCDA Foundation GalaThe NYC Dance Alliance (NYCDA) Foundation’s annual gala event, Bright Lights Shining Stars, held at New York University’s Skirball Center on September 27, brought together Broadway stars, dance legends and more. The gala celebrated the many talented teenagers who were awarded scholarships at NYCDA Foundation’s National College Scholarship audition this past July.
“NYCDA is committed to nurturing the next generation of dancers,” says Joe Lanteri, the organization’s founder and executive director. “At every NYCDA event, education comes first. The Foundation is a natural extension of this mission. Many dancers do not pursue their passion of dance at the college level because they simply cannot afford it. The scholarships we award allow talented teenagers to pursue their dreams and further their education.”
Much of the money that goes toward these scholarship awards comes from parents, dance teachers, dance lovers, studio owners and dancers themselves. Capezio, too, has generously supported NYCDA since its inception in 1994, and is a $25,000 Gold Sponsor of the NYCDA Foundation.
“When I approached Capezio in 2010 regarding the formation of the not-for-profit foundation, they jumped on board without hesitation,” Lanteri adds.
NYCDA Foundation GalaEach year, the NYCDA Foundation awards a special Capezio College Scholarship. This year, that scholarship was given to Kadin Mestas, who is currently enrolled as a freshman at PACE University in NYC.
In addition to honoring these promising dancers with college scholarships, the Bright Lights Shining Stars Gala hosted many celebrities. Catherine Zeta-Jones and husband Michael Douglas were in attendance, in addition to choreographer Josh Bergasse, New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck, An American in Paris star Robbie Fairchild, Phylicia Rashad, Raven-Symoné, Carmen de Lavallade and more.
The evening also saw some performances from the Broadway community and professional dance world, including BalletNext, the “Syncopated Ladies” from So You Think You Can Dance, and excerpts from Sweet Charity and West Side Story.
Every year, the NYCDA Foundation also honors an “Ambassador for the Arts”. Past honorees have included Roberta Flack, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Zeta-Jones. This year, Debbie Allen was the award’s recipient and the event’s guest of honor. 
Debbie Allen NYCDA Foundation“Debbie Allen has achieved enormous success in every direction – dancer, singer, actress, teacher, choreographer, business owner, director, producer and more!” Lanteri explains. “With all of her continued success, she remains committed to her work at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA). She has the soul of a dancer. DADA and NYCDA share a mission. She was an obvious choice to be recognized as an Ambassador for the Arts.”
Following Bright Lights Shining Stars, the NYCDA Foundation will continue its mission to offer opportunities to rising, young dancers.
“Our newest endeavor is our first Winter Dance Intensive,” Lanteri adds. “It is being produced through the NYCDA Foundation. All proceeds will benefit the college scholarship program. The goal of this annual event is to expose a select group of young dancers to the styles and techniques of the professional contemporary dance world. We are very excited about it.”
The Winter Intensive will be held at The Juilliard School in NYC, December 27-31.
For more information on the NYCDA Foundation, visit
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.