A DREAMY NIGHT Dance teams step up Competitors, celebrity judges aid Friends of Dreamland Ballroom

From Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Sunday, November 28, 2010

By Cary Jenkins

LITTLE ROCK — Eight dance teams twirled, shimmied, leapt and spun their way across the dance floor Nov. 18 at Dancing Into Dreamland at the Governor’s Mansion.

The fundraiser for Friends of the Dreamland Ballroom featured a dance competition, celebrity judges and audience participation with guests texting their vote for a favorite dance team.

Amber Jones, the nonprofit’s executive director, explained that Dancing Into Dreamland was an evening about sharing the universal language of music and dance just as it was celebrated almost a century ago in the Dreamland Ballroom.

The program began with Lawrence Hamilton serenading his friend Mercedes Ellington, who was one of the judges. The pair have worked together on Broadway.

Ellington is the granddaughter of Duke Ellington, one of many stars who performed at the Dreamland Ballroom in the 1930s. A graduate of the Juilliard School of music, Mercedes Ellington was a June Taylor Dancer and the first black woman on The Jackie Gleason Show. She serves on the Tony awards nominating committee.

Other celebrity guests were David Miller, who has a weekly big band radio program Swingin’ Down the Lane, which is broadcast on more than 40 national public radio stations including KUAR; Leslie Harper, a former professional dancer and singer at Opryland and musical director for the Summer Musical Theater Intensive at theArkansas Repertory Theatre; and Arkansas native Steve Buckley, who was vice president of artist and repertoire at Motown and served as a talent judge on Star Search.

When votes were tabulated, dancers Allison Stodola Wilson and Jonathan Bostick won for their disco dancing routine. Wesley Crocker and Lawrie Rash received the people’s choice award.

The Friends of Dreamland Ballroom focuses on sharing the musical, cultural and architectural history of the Dreamland Ballroom and historic Taborian Hall on West Ninth Street. The building was constructed in 1918 by a black fraternal organization, the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, in what was then a thriving black business district, according to the group’s website.

This article was published November 28, 2010 at 4:29 a.m.
High Profile, Pages 46 on 11/28/2010

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The Governor’s Mansion Host Dancing into Dreamland Gala this Thursday

Monday, November 15, 2010
The governor’s mansion will host Dancing into Dreamland, a Gala Event Dance Contest presented by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, November 18, from 6-9pm, tickets $75, followed by the After Party at the Capital Hotel Ballroom, 9 pm – 12 am, and tickets are $40. Proceeds from this event will go to the music education and cultural outreach programs of the Dreamland Ballroom.

The event will be emceed by Lawrence Hamilton with special guest Mercedes Ellington. The event, Dancing into Dreamland, is a dance contest of 8 dance teams, listed below, performing all styles of dance.

Dance Dynamics Junior Duo – Ashton Jones and Marina Redlich
Ms. Karen’s Dance Studio – Sterling Warren, Kennedy Sample, Raygan Sylvester, Hannah Bakalekos
David Carter and Melissa Napier
Beyond Ballroom – Wesley Crocker and Lawrie Rash
Roger McCoy and Kay Ford
Sankofa Performing Arts Dance Theater – Angela Burt, Gena Harless, Clarice Kinchen, America Jones

Kerry McCoy, founder of Friends of Dreamland Ballroom said, “It is somewhat of a mix between ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘So you think you can dance?’” The Grand Prize is a trip for four to New Orleans.

There will be a silent auction, food, cocktails, text voting, open dancing, and a performance by Lawrence Hamilton and Mercedes Ellington. Dress is party attire’

The following companies are sponsors of this Event – Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Capital Hotel, Robbi Davis Agency, Oxford American Magazine, MainStream Technologies, and Ken Rash Casual Furniture.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the event visit www.dreamlandballroom.org and click on events.

Amber Jones
Executive Director
Friends of Dreamland
501-607-0954 cell