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A tribute to shoes: Dancers celebrate Capezio

NEW YORK (AP) ― The New York arts world has every kind of tribute; Galas are held virtually every night. But a tribute to a shoe company?

Well, shoes are very important to dancers ― pointe shoes, ballet slippers, Broadway dance shoes, tap shoes. So it was an opportunity for dance ― loads and loads, of all varieties ― when Capezio celebrated its 125th anniversary Monday evening with a gala at New York City Center.

The evening started with a New York institution: The Rockettes, in black and sequins, doing their famed precision kicks, with their equally unified smiles. As two lines drew apart at one point, Tommy Tune appeared, the legendary song-and-dance man dressed all in red, down to his shiny Capezio tap shoes.

Tune, at 73, looked dapper as ever as he did a few steps for the crowd. Later, he received the 61st Capezio Dance Award, presented by his friend, the famous dancer/choreographer Ann Reinking.
In this April 23 photo released by New York City Center, dancers perform during a celebration for Capezio’s 125th Anniversary at New York City Center. (AP-Yonhap News)
In this April 23 photo released by New York City Center, dancers perform during a celebration for Capezio’s 125th Anniversary at New York City Center. (AP-Yonhap News)

The evening, conceived and directed by Ann Marie DeAngelo, featured classical dance, street dance, and virtually everything in between. From the ballet world there was the elegant duo of Misty Copeland and Jared Matthews of American Ballet Theatre, doing a little Balanchine (“Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux’’). In a less traditional number, Nicole Graniero and Craig Salstein of ABT danced to the song “Falling Slowly’’ from the film “Once,’’ along with Daniel Ulbricht of New York City Ballet.

There was hip hop, courtesy of Mr. Wiggles, and a huge show number from jazz choreographer Mandy Moore. A group called iLuminate created an electric light show with their bodies in “Night Vision,’’ created by Miral Kotb. Noah Racey and Jeffrey Denman charmed the crowd old-fashioned style, with a song-and-tap number called “Educate Your Feet.’’

There was also room for ballroom, and the highlight was a sizzling tango performed by the highly limber Jaime Verazin and Mark Stuart, of Mark Stuart Dance Theatre. (Do not try these lifts at home; you might end up permanently entangled with your partner.)

Other highlights: The fast-moving Lombard Twins from Argentina, whose style defies easy description. To the music of Queen and Michael Jackson, a male group called the Bad Boys of Dance leaped and spun with fury. From the Momix dance company came a crowd-pleasing number where a couple on skis seemed to morph into impossible shapes like Gumby dolls in latex.

And for those with memories of past Broadway hits, there was the enduring charm of the Bob Fosse entry ― three dancers in bowler hats, performing the choreographer’s distinctive Manson Trio number from his musical “Pippin.’’ As many in the audience knew, Reinking performed in “Pippin’’ early in her career.

She also had one of the evening’s most concise lines: “Lots of great shoes tonight.’’

The event benefited Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, American Tap Foundation, and the National Dance Institute.