Gala 2018 Sponsors
2018 GALA HONOREES
Wendy Whelan, Former Principal Dancer, NYC Ballet
Wendy Whelan, widely considered one of the world’s leading dancers, began dance lessons at the age of three in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Whelan began intense professional training at the Louisville Ballet Academy. She was accepted to the summer program of the School of American Ballet at age 14; a year later, she moved to New York to continue her studies as a full-time student. In 1984, she was named an apprentice with New York City Ballet and joined the corps de ballet a year later.
Wendy Whelan went on to spend 30 years at New York City Ballet, dancing virtually all the major Balanchine roles, and working closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets and originating roles in ballets by such notable choreographers as William Forsythe, Twyla Tharp, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei, and Wayne MacGregor. She was promoted to soloist in 1989 and to principal dancer in 1991. Her most notable choreographic collaboration at NYCB was with Christopher Wheeldon, who created roles for Whelan in thirteen of his ballets, including Polyphonia, Liturgy, and After the Rain. At his own company, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, he again chose Whelan for several new works, and in 2007, she was nominated in London for both an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances.
Wendy Whelan has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and the Kirov Ballet and has perfomed all over the U.S., South America, Europe, and Asia. She received the Dance Magazine Award in 2007, and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University. In 2011, she received both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance.
Since 2013, Wendy Whelan has been developing her own independent projects. Her inaugural project, Restless Creature with four dancer/choreographers — Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Bryan Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo – was co-produced by The Joyce Theater Productions and premiered at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2013, later touring the U.S. Her second project, Whelan/Watson Other Stories, was co-produced by the Royal Opera House in London and self-produced for the BAM Next Wave Festival in 2015. In 2016-2017, she premiered Some of a Thousand Words with Brian Brooks at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, co-produced by The Joyce Theater Productions, which toured throughout the U.S. A documentary, entitled Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan, was released in movie theaters across the country beginning in summer 2017, and is now available on iTunes and Amzaon. The film recently won the Chita Rivera Award for Best Dance Documentary.
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Founder and Visioning Partner, Urban Bush Women
From Kansas City, Missouri, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of the legendary Katherine Dunham. After earning her B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, she received her M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University. In 1980 Jawole moved to New York City to study with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion.
In 1984, Jawole founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. In addition to 34 works for UBW, she has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, University of Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth University and others; and with collaborators including Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire. In 2006 Jawole received a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for her work as choreographer/creator of Walking With Pearl…Southern Diaries. Featured in the PBS documentary, Free to Dance, which chronicles the African-American influence on modern dance, Jawole was designated a Master of Choreography by the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in 2005. Her company has toured five continents and has performed at venues including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Kennedy Center. UBW was selected as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate a cultural diplomacy program for the U.S. Department of State in 2010. In 2011 Jawole choreographed visible with Chipaumire, a theatrical dance piece that explores immigration and migration. In 2012 Jawole was a featured artist in the film Restaging Shelter, produced and directed by Bruce Berryhill and Martha Curtis, and currently available to PBS stations.
Jawole developed a unique approach to enable artists to strengthen effective involvement in cultural organizing and civic engagement, which evolved into UBW’s acclaimed Summer Leadership Institute. She serves as director of the Institute, founder/visioning partner of UBW and currently holds the position of the Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University.
A former board member of Dance/USA, Jawole received a 2008 United States Artists Wynn fellowship and a 2009 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial. Still dancing, she recently toured in a sold-out national tour presented by 651 ARTS as a leading influential dancer/choreographer on a program that included her early mentor Dianne McIntyre, her collaborator Germaine Acogny, Carmen de Lavallade and Bebe Miller. As an artist whose work is geared towards building equity and diversity in the arts Jawole was awarded the 2013 Arthur L. Johnson Memorial award by Sphinx Music at their inaugural conference on diversity in the arts. In 2013, Jawole received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and honorary degrees from Tufts University and Rutgers University. Recently, Jawole received the 2016 Dance Magazine award and the 2016 Dance/USA Honor Award and 2017 Bessie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance.
Al Wiltshire, Chairman, National Grid Foundation | Former Keyspan Executive
Albert C. Wiltshire served as Chief of Staff to Representative Edolphus "Ed" Towns of Brooklyn, New York. In his role he oversaw both the district and Washington, D.C. offices, ensuring that operations ran smoothly and efficiently. He was also responsible for evaluating the political outcome of various legislative proposals and constituent requests.
Before serving as Representative Towns' Chief of Staff, Mr. Wiltshire was the Vice President of Government Affairs for the KeySpan Corporation, the predecessor company to National Grid. He cultivated relationships between the company and elected officials on the federal, state and local levels as well as between KeySpan and the communities it served.
Prior to joining KeySpan, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. Through his efforts, the Navy Yard has become one of the most successful industrial park and economic development projects in the nation.
In addition to serving as Chairman of the National Grid Foundation, he serves on the boards of several community organizations and has been repeatedly honored for his record of community service.
Jo Anne Simon, New York State Assemblymember
Long active in civic affairs, in 2014 Ms. Simon was elected to the N.Y.S. Assembly for the 52nd District where she has led on issues such as the rights of women, children, and the elderly, the reduction of gun violence, environmental justice and the rights of individuals with disabilities. She organized the first ever Dyslexia Awareness Day event in the state Capitol; Governor Cuomo recently signed her landscape shifting bill affecting the educational rights of students with dyslexia and related learning disabilities. In 2016, she was overwhelmingly re-elected.
Assemblymember Simon is committed to increasing female representation in politics and government. She currently chairs the Assembly’s Subcommittee on Workplace Safety. Assemblymember Simon began her civic activity as President of the Boerum Hill Association and chaired its Traffic & Transportation, Land Use and Atlantic Yards committees. Jo Anne was a founder or co-founder of community based organizations including the BrooklynSpeaks.net, Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Friends of Douglass/Greene Park; Hoyt-Schermerhorn Task Force, and the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Task Force. She is a founding member of the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) and the former president of Everyone Reading, which advocates on behalf of individuals with dyslexia and related learning disabilities.
A former teacher of the deaf, sign language interpreter and disability civil rights attorney, Ms. Simon is a nationally recognized expert in her field. Her work has been featured in the New York and National Law Journals. She has been called upon to give expert testimony before the U.S. Senate. She was also an adjunct Assistant Professor of Law at Fordham.
In 2004, she was elected female District Leader and State Committeewoman for the 52nd Assembly District where she put principle over politics, fighting for election and campaign finance reform, increased voter participation. She was in the forefront of the movement to bring new leadership and reforms to Brooklyn's Democratic party.
Jo Anne and her husband, Bill Harris, make their home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM SPRING GALA 2016
HIGHLIGHTS FROM SPRING GALA 2015
Dancewave hosted Spring Gala 2015 on April 29, 2015 at Roulette, Brooklyn. The event had over 200 attendees from New York’s community of supporters and arts philanthropists and raised over $35,000 for the Scholarship Initiative. The evening was full of dancing with a salsa lesson led by Rebecca Bliss, and performances by Dancewave Company. We were entertained by MCs Sade Baderinwa and Vincent Valasquez and enjoyed the delicious food by Mark Fahrer. Honorees of the evening inlcuded Paloma Herrera presented by Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theatre, Stephen Levin presented by Jimmy Van Bramer, NYC Council Members, and Saundra Thomas of WABC presented by Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas of the Rockefellar Brothers Fund.