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Last modified: March 01. 2006 9:19AM

Fundraising event featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones hailed as ‘unqualified success’

By Nancy Acton

“There is nothing like dance for keeping you focused,” Oscar-winning actress and Bermuda resident Catherine Zeta-Jones told a capacity audience at the National Dance Foundation’s black-tie gala on Saturday, which included students from the Island’s dance schools. “When I was growing up, that was all I had. I lived to dance.”
As a member of National Dance Foundation of Bermuda (NDFB) board and an avid supporter of its summer programme, DanceBermuda, for which she funds scholarships for participating students, Miss Zeta-Jones expressed satisfaction in knowing that last year’s dream of offering world-class training in Bermuda had become a reality.
“I know first-hand what programmes like DanceBermuda mean to young people with a passion,” she said. “I thank you for your support of me, and of the Dance Foundation, and of Bermuda’s dancers.”
The glittering event, which the gracious Welsh actress hosted at the Fairmont Southampton Hotel at the weekend accompanied by her husband, actor Michael Douglas, was entitled ‘An Evening with Catherine Zeta-Jones’.
Thanks to overwhelming support from the corporate and business community in particular, it was a sell-out affair which filled the hotel’s candlelit Mid Atlantic Amphitheatre to capacity. There the guests enjoyed a sumptuous dinner, performances by dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, and music by the Tommy Ray Band.
Among the local VIPs and dignitaries attending were Governor Sir John Vereker, Lady Vereker, Premier Alex Scott and Mrs. Olga Scott, and US Consul General Gregory Slayton.
The ABT dancers’ short programme had something for everyone – from an elegant pas de deux from ‘Coppélia’ performed by Erica Cornejo and Carlos Lopez to ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’, a hip-hop, gyrating show-stopper inspired by music from the film ‘Rise’ and danced by Kenneth Easter.
Miss Zeta-Jones introduced a two-and-a-half-minute trailer from the documentary, ‘An Extraordinary Three Weeks’, which the NDFB has entered in this month’s Bermuda International Film Festival.
The 40-minute film chronicles the establishment of DanceBermuda, which was held for the first time last August, and is now an annual intensive training programme. ‘An Extraordinary Three Weeks’ will have its world première at the festival on Sunday, March 19 at Southside Cinema.
Pronouncing the gala “an unqualified success”, NDFB chairman Don Kramer revealed that students in Bermuda and overseas are clamouring to be a part of this year’s summer intensive programme, which is gaining a reputation for excellence throughout North America.
“We’ve had calls from all over the US and Canada about our auditions next month, and dancers throughout Bermuda are already pre-registered,” he said.
“There are two young dancers in Fairbanks, Alaska who are holding bake sales to raise money to come here for DanceBermuda. Everyone has heard what a success last year’s programme was and are anxious to sign up for the auditions that will be held next month.”
DanceBermuda is a three-week intensive training programme featuring faculty of American Ballet Theatre (ABT), one of the world’s pre-eminent dance schools and companies. Local and international dance students audition for a place in the prestigious programme, which is based at Bermuda High School and uses four dance spaces – two in the Jessie Vesey Centre and two in the school itself.
Auditions for DanceBermuda 2006 will be held on Saturday, March 4 at Bermuda High School on Richmond Road. Pre-registration is required and inquiries should be made to Shari-Lynn Pringle on 236-3319 or by email to springledancebermuda.org.
The National Dance Foundation of Bermuda, a non-profit organisation registered with the Bermuda Charities Commission and a company limited by guarantee, is dedicated to raising the standard of dance excellence in Bermuda by offering world-class training to the Island’s dancers, teachers and choreographers.

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