Everybody Dance LA Gala Highlights Importance of Arts Education



An overcast June gloom day couldn’t cast a cloudy spell on the gala celebration held June 12 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles for the youth-focused arts nonprofit Everybody Dance LA!

Hosted by Melvin Roberts, anchor of KTTV’s “Good Day L.A.” and a weekend anchor for “Extra,” the event was full of fancy footwork and fevered energy, with kids grabbing honorees and attendees to participate in impromptu flash mobs. That set the tone for an evening filled with fun, inspiration, and gratitude.

EDLA was created to honor the memory of Gabriella Axelrod, daughter of EDLA founder Liza Bercovici, who died at age 13. Bercovici founded the organization in 1999 as a tribute to Gabriella’s love of dance. Today, EDLA offers a range of after-school, in-school, enrichment and summer programs for more than 6,000 students a year. In 2014, the organization was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by first lady Michelle Obama.

Dancers from EDLA’s ballet conservancy
denise leitner

The organization’s mission is to use EDLA programs to help to transform lives by bringing the joy and impact of dance to charter schools serving low-income communities in Los Angeles. Bercovici noted in her extremely emotional speech at the gala that she is retiring as leader of the organization after nearly 25 years. “Losing a child, [there’s] not a worse gut punch than that. But charter schools gave me a reason to keep living and create a living memory to my daughter,” Bercovici said.

During the pandemic years, raising funds and keeping students engaged with EDLA programs proved to be challenging — but not impossible. EDLA worked in partnership with the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. “Arts funding just got slashed and I kept having to say to all our funders and the schools that we partner with that the arts are essential,” said Tina Banchero, program and artistic director for EDLA. “We were able to transition quickly, offering 200 dance classes a week virtually.”

EDLA programs are beneficial to a wide range of students, not just those that are interested in dance as an art form. Kimberly Gomez is an EDLA alumnus who is now studying psychology and criminology at UC Irvine. “Even if dance is not a career you want for the rest of your life, you get discipline and the structure that really helps you learn how life is going to be the rest of the way,” Gomez said.

“Encanto” choreographer Jamal Sims, top right, with EDLA dancers
denise leitner

Supporters via taped message during the program included dance and Broadway celebrities such as Jenna Dewan (ABC’s “The Rookie”), Emmy-winning choreographer Travis Wall as well as “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. “I would dance for you right now, but I haven’t stretched out,” Ferguson said. Notables in the crowd at the Skirball included “Encanto” choreographer Jamal Sims and executive producers Jonathan Kidd and Sonya Odamtten of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”

The emotional evening ended with an energetic performance of dance numbers from Disney’s “Encanto” and a dance floor flash mob paying tribute to Bruno Mars, Lizzo and Jennifer Lopez.

(Pictured top: “Good Day LA” anchor Melvin Roberts with EDLA dancers)


Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.