Marking 25 years of dedication to realizing any sort of endeavor calls for a celebration, especially when those years involve the hard work of persisting against all setbacks and believing in the ultimate worthiness of a dream. At the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli, the goal has been to build and maintain a professional creative residence and performance facility for dance, and the founders – Bentley Roton, Martine van Hamel, Kevin McKenzie and Gregory Cary – have successfully brought this to fruition. On its beautiful 153-acre campus in Tivoli (once the barns of Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandmother), Kaatsbaan serves dance companies, choreographers and dance artists with space where they can create and showcase new work, rehearse, develop productions and perform for the public.
Festivities this Saturday will be presented by Kevin McKenzie, Kaatsbaan co-founder and artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), who is co-hosting the evening with actress and director Mary Stuart Masterson (left) – you’ll recognize her from the films Some Kind of Wonderful, Fried Green Tomatoes and Benny & Joon. Winner of the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress, and nominee for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the Broadway revival of Nine, Masterson is connected to Kaatsbaan in a more maternal manner: Her offspring have enjoyed dance education here, so like any good Mom, she’s supporting the organization by speaking about the importance of connecting students with professionals in the artform.
A stellar lineup of performers will be featured at the Gala, including Stella Abrera and Sterling Baca performing the “White Swan Pas de Deux,” and Gillian Murphy and Thomas Forster the “Black Swan Pas de Deux,” both from Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake. The ABT Studio Company will present the world premiere of a new dance piece choreographed by George Williamson. Others from the world of dance will be represented as well, with Teresa Reichlen and Ask La Cour of the New York City Ballet performing Balanchine’s Agon, and the Martha Graham Dance Company’s Miki Orihara doing Graham’s 1932 solo Satyric Festival Song. And during the event, Kaatsbaan will honor philanthropist and chairman emeritus Vincent Clephas with the prestigious Kaatsbaan “Playing Field Award,” acknowledging Clephas for his exceptional guidance of the Board of Trustees over the last ten years and for his devoted and enthusiastic patronage.
A world-class museum of dance and retirement housing for elderly dancers are still in the dream phase, explains Kaatsbaan co-founder Gregory Cary. “We’re celebrating what we’ve done for the last 25 years in becoming the most extensive dance presenters in the upstate region. In Phase Two, we’re fundraising for two new studios, another dancers’ inn and another indoor/outdoor dance theater that will extend our summer programming.” One more goal at Kaatsbaan is the creation of permanent residences for elderly dancers. “A lot of dancers who have very good professional careers never have the opportunity to save money for retirement,” says Cary. “They have much to contribute to new generations of dancers, because there is nothing like having personal instruction. You don’t learn the intent of the choreographer or the actual dynamics of doing those movements from video.”
The Grande Champagne Reception begins at 4 p.m. with music by Duo Orfeo. The Gala Performance follows at 5:30, and then it’s dinner at 7 prepared by Murray’s of Tivoli, dessert, a silent auction including a 2015/16 Season Pass and a backstage tour at the Metropolitan Opera House, and after-dinner dancing with chanteuse Aurelia Williams till the late hours.
Kaatsbaan 25th Anniversary Gala, Saturday, November 14, 4 p.m., $200, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, 120 Broadway, Tivoli; (845) 757-5106, www.kaatsbaan.org.