Benefits Career Transition For Dancers

World Premier of Work by Margo Sappington Showcased at Gala

Story By: Edward Callaghan
Carl And Marsha Hewitt

Anka K.Palitz With Jennifer Myerberg And Ann Van Ness

Cheryl Almallah & Dr. Omar Almallah

Six years ago arts patron and longtime Board Member and supporter of Career Transition For Dancers (CTFD), Anka Palitz decided to introduce her Palm Beach friends to the work of CTFD in enabling dancers to define their post-dance career possibilities and develop the skills necessary to excel in a variety of disciplines and launched the annual Heart & Soul Gala. Since then, the event has become one of the must-attend parties of the season and has become famed for its high voltage entertainment.

Over 200 guests filled the Circle Ball Room at The Breaker's in Palm Beach for a thrilling evening of dinner, dance and music hosted by actor and singer Gianni Russo of “The Godfather” fame thanks to the efforts of a group of powerhouse chairs and committee members. International Chair was Hermè De Wyman Miro. Gala Co-Chairs were Anka Palitz, Jennifer Myerberg and Ann Van Ness. Dinner chairs were George J. Palladino and Jerrold St. George. Vice Chairs were Michele Herbert, Marsha & Carl Hewitt and Carol Jaeger.

The evening paid tribute to two leaders in the world of dance. Last year’s honoree Ellis J. Parker III presented this year’s first honoree Dorothy Lappin, President of The Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation, with a Heart & Soul Award. Jan Hanniford, The Dean of Dance at the Dreyfoos School was presented with her award by last year’s honoree Steven Caras. Gianni Russo, the evening’s host, performed with his musical trio. Award winning choreographer Margo Sappington created a world premiere with artists from the Dreyfoos School in honor of Dorothy and Jan and internationally acclaimed ballroom champions, Cheryl and Omar Almallah performed a slow fox trot.

A live auction was another highlight of the evening and featured such one-of-a kind experiences and luxury items as tickets for two to attend to CTFD 30th Anniversary Pearl Jubilee in NYC for dinner, performance and a bow on stage with the stars; a stay at the Baccarat Hotel in NYC; two elegant evening gowns by acclaimed designer Carmen Marc Valvo; Sonia B. 14 kt. yellow gold and diamond bracelet; two days at a historic Normandy chateau and naming of CTFD educational scholarships. The auction helped bring the evening’s event total raised to over $157,000.

Benefactors for the evening included: Dr. Omar & Mrs. Cheryl Almallah, Baccarat Hotels. Steve Brown & Jaime Stern, Classical South Florida 90.7, Alexander J. Dube, Michele Herbert, Marsha & Carl Hewitt, Peter Heydon, Carol Jaeger, Sandy & Greg Kriser, Jennifer Myerberg, Anka K. Palitz, George J. Palladino & Jerrold St. George, Nancy & Ellis J. Parker III, Dick Robinson, Legends 100.3FM, Saks Fifth Avenue, Margo Sappington, Carmen Marc Valvo, Ann Van Ness and WPBT 20.

6th Annual Heart & Soul Gala committee members were Irene Athans, Mauricio Busa & Barry Hayes, Steven Caras, General Carter W. Clarke, Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Cohen, Hermè De Wyman Miro, Craig Dix, Susan & John Domenico, Annette Friedland, Sandy & George Garfunkel, Cheryl & Jerre Gowdy, Vicki Halmos, Nancy Hart, Ann, Marie & Stephen Haymes, Michele Herbert, Marsha & Carl Hewitt, Peter Heydon, Jasmine Horowitz, Lisa Huertas, Carol Jaeger, Maya Johnson, Vicki & Chris Kellogg, Jill Leinbach, Janet Levy, Ellen Liman, Carla & George Mann, Alexis & Terry Mersentes, Harriet & Paul Moscowitz, Jennifer Myerberg, Anka K. Palitz, George J. Palladino & Jerrold St. George, Debbie & Louis Porecco, Donald Scott, Carol Ann & John Stieglemeier, Karin & John Strasswimmer, Ann Van Ness and Lori Welteroth.

“I started this annual event to bring awareness of the brevity of a professional dancer’s career; the average age of retirement is 34. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Career Transition For Dancers is the safety net for all dancers. To date, more than $11 million has been awarded for vital one-on-one career counseling plus scholarships and grants for higher education, entrepreneurial endeavors and certification programs. In Florida alone, we’ve aided 116 dancers,” stated Ms. Palitz.

Fresh from her successful Palm Beach Gala, Ms. Palitz who as a Vice Chair of CTFD’s Board has hosted many receptions, lunches and chaired their world renowned annual Jubilees at City Center for years is already hard at work on their next big event: ROLEX Presents Career Transition For Dancers 30TH ANNIVERSARY PEARL JUBILEE: A STAR-STUDDED RETROSPECTIVE on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm at New York City Center followed by "Super With The Stars" dinner at The Grand Ballroom at The Hilton New York. The New York Times has called the annual event “extraordinarily spectacular”. The 30th Anniversary Chairs are Anka K. Palitz, Michele Herbert and Michele Riggi. Janice Becker is the Dinner Chair; Ann Van Ness, Auction Chair and Craig Dix, Journal Chair. The 30th Anniversary Jubilee Sponsors: Dance Magazine and Pointe.

Photos by Mike Jachles/