On Friday, November 16, seven beloved and respected leaders in the community will lace up their dancing shoes to take part in the 9th Annual Stars of New York Dance (SONYD), a lively and fun dance competition that raises dance education funds for children from low-income communities.

Hosted for the ninth year in a row by Errol Louis of NY1 at the Kumble Theater, the event will honor pillars of our community Frances Bell Henry and Robert L. Henry of Frank R. Bell Funeral Home, Inc. who have provided comfort and compassion to families for more than 60 years. 

“I’m especially excited to honor Frances Bell and Robert Henry who have touched the lives of so many New York City families when they need it most,” said Cheryl Todmann of SONYD.

“I’m so grateful to each of our Stars for dedicating their personal time to dance and make a difference in the lives of our children in New York City,” said Cheryl Todmann, founder and executive producer of  SONYD. “I’m especially excited to honor Frances Bell and Robert Henry who have touched the lives of so many New York City families when they need it most. Fran and Bob have been supporters of dance and the arts for decades, and it’s our pleasure to salute them.”

Similar to Dancing with the Stars, seven New York City leaders (“The Stars”) will partner with seven professional dance artists (“The Dancers”) who teach and perform with an NYC community-based dance organization. The Stars engage in weeks of rigorous training to learn a three- to four- minute routine choreographed by their dance partner.

The night of the event, the seven couples perform the fiercest dance duet and are judged on originality, creativity, technique, showmanship and costumes. The couple that receives the highest judged score wins a $5,000 Dance Access Award to provide five or more children from low-income communities with a free year of dance education with their dance partner’s organization. The other competing dance organizations receive a $1,000 Dance Access Award toward dance tuition fees, class uniforms, shoes and dance costumes for one child.

Photo credit: Stars of NY Dance

This year’s fierce contestants include:

  • Bevy Smith, co-host of Page Six TV, host of Sirius-XM’s “Bevelations”
  • Lenny Green, radio personality and host of The Quiet Storm, WBLS-FM
  • Lesleigh Irish-Underwood, SVP and chief marketing officer, United Way of NYC and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Reggie Nance, associate state director, Multicultural Engagement, AARP
  • Rev. Steven E. Carter, senior pastor, Mt. Ararat Church
  • Henry Butler, district manager, Brooklyn’s Community Board 3
  • Katrina Sparks, Ph.D., educator and member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Since its inception in 2010, The Stars of New York Dance has provided more than 7,500 days of free dance education and training to children and has engaged more than 110 leaders to dance.

“It’s very difficult for my mom, a single parent, to pay for my dance classes. Receiving the dance scholarship from The Stars of New York Dance has helped me pursue my dreams and has taken the burden off my mom,” said Janiya Pearson, a SONYD scholarship recipient.

“I love to dance. It allows me to express myself, and be creative and focused,” said Janiya Pearson, 16, who is a SONYD scholarship recipient and currently enrolled in MOVE(NYC)‘s young professionals program that provides high-caliber dance education, leadership training and performance opportunities. “It’s very difficult for my mom, a single parent, to pay for my dance classes. Receiving the dance scholarship from The Stars of New York Dance has helped me pursue my dreams and has taken the burden off my mom. We are both grateful.”

Take a look at last year’s showstopping performances and highlights!

 9th Annual Stars of New York Dance Competition 

When: Friday, November 16; 5:30pm VIP Cocktail Reception; 7:00pm Dance Competition

Where: Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts, LIU Brooklyn, One University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tickets: VIP Tickets $125 (incl. VIP seating and cocktail reception) | General Admission Tickets: $75.

Purchase tickets online at www.starsnydance.org/tickets

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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