If you love everything about dance, then the place to be was at the Professional Dancers Society (PDS) 26th Annual Gyspy Awards Luncheon on March 24, 2013 in Beverly Hills.
The incredible Ben Vereen was feted for his accomplishments in theater, movies and television, and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame class of 2011.
Lending their support to this special event were Dick Van Dyke, Florence Henderson, Carl Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Ruta Lee and, of course, the charismatic PDS President Mitzi Gaynor.
The Beverly Hilton lobby was buzzing with paparazzi, fans, and a Who’s Who of dancers. The ballroom filled up with an excited crowd, greeted by Chairman of the Board, Joni Berry, who welcomed Ben Vereen to a cheering crowd. Also honored was amazing choreographer Michael Rooney, son of child star Mickey Rooney and acclaimed in the dance world.
The Gypsy Awards is a benefit partnered with the Actor’s Fund to help those people in the performing arts, including Dancers Helping Dancers of PDS with financial assistance, health and disability care and in so many ways, all around the country.
Dance treat of the day was the many video clips compiled by producer Lee Hale, plus a wonderful opening dance number a la Ben Vereen style.
Fiesty and funny, dance wizard and PDS President Mitzi Gaynor, who should add comedian to her list of talents, entertained with jokes and anecdotes, and mentioned that “Ben Vereen changed the look of dance.”
In the grand tradition, the decorated Gypsy Robe is passed yearly to an unexpected recipient for his or her memorable work. The 2012 honoree Sandi Johnson passed the cherished robe to Gerri Reddick with her added personal memento adorning the robe, augmenting its luck.
Unexpectedly, Ms. Reddick gasped, “I am stunned, what an honor. I will do my best to honor the robe and all it signifies.”
In memoriam, the show honored the vivid music of the late Billy Barnes, as Jo Anne Worley shared stories and clips of performers that he influenced, including Joel Grey, Karen Morrow, Angela Lansbury, Sandy Duncan and many more.
Also honored was everyone’s favorite Hollywood publicist and PDS board member Dale Olson, who died Aug. 9, 2012 at the age of 78.
Everyone was delighted with Michael Rooney’s award; he has been called one of the most innovative and influential choreographers from films to TV to music videos and commercials. He has done it all, and his list of performers goes on and on: Fiona Apple, Michael Jackson, Christopher Walken and many more. Dick Van Dyke (PDS Awardee 1999) presented this award.
At 91, Carl Reiner (PDS Awardee 2010) took the stage to introduce a talented group of young dancers ages 6 to 18 from the Carousel Dance Studios, who performed their version of numbers from “Gypsy,” reminding us all the that the future for young dancers is bright.
When Debbie Reynolds introduced the super talent Ben Vereen, everyone was reminded of his legacy from “Pippin,” “Fosse,” “Chicago,” “All That Jazz” and “Roots” with his memorable clips. Mr. Vereen called out, “Dancers, do you hear me? We have left giant foot steps in the sand that we have to claim.”
With his Gypsy Award in hand, Ben Vereen declared, “The essence of dance never leaves you!”
For information on the Professional Dancers Society, a non-profit corporation formed to serve professional dancers, call (310) 278 5222 or visit their Web site.