Dance To Wellness: Star Studded Evening!
Posted by Michael St. John on Jul 28, 2013 - 5:28:48 AM
AMERICA!—The theme of the evening was “Dance to Wellness,” and that theme was carried through with considerable panache, as the energetic ensemble of 19 dancers from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy took to the floor and impressed an enthusiastic audience of Yo San University supporters at the Pacific Design Center (PDC) recently. With their flowing gymnastic and emotionally metaphoric rendition of the “Earth Dance” the youthful troupe set the stage for the conferral of the Yo San University 2013 Robert Graham Visionary Award.
The dancers epitomized the positive energy and healthy spirit cultivated by choreographer, producer and director, Debbie Allen. As a footnote, when I was Editor-in-chief of Players magazine, I gave this lady her first individual national cover for the magazine in the late 1970s. Of course this was many years ago and she might not remember, but I do because it was a cover that was very special to all of us in the industry.
Dr. Daoshing Ni, Dr. Larry Ryan, Freda Payne, Debbie Allen, James Ingram and Dr. Mao Shing Ni.
The performing young dancers represented the thousands of others who have been the benefactors of instruction at the
Academy, an institution which has facilitated the health and wellness of young
Southern Californians for the past twelve years. It was precisely that work in founding and developing the
Academy and her dedicated advocacy to Traditional Chinese Medicine that motivated the Yo San University Board of Trustees to name Debbie Allen as the recipient of the 2013 Robert Graham Visionary Award.
The gala evening opened with cocktails and hors’ dourves in Wolfgang Puck’s Spectra Room on the third level of the impressive PDC Blue Building, the original structure in a complex of five architecturally significant buildings that include a branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art; it constitutes the largest collection of interior design and art studios and showrooms in the country. As the Yo San University guests gathered, the iconic YSU logo provided the backdrop for “red carpet” photo ops with the variety of celebrities who came out to honor Debbie at the evening’s festivities.
After a delicious buffet dinner, Yo San University President, Dr. Larry Ryan, opened the program by welcoming and thanking all in attendance for their support of Yo San University and its mission to educate exceptional TCM healers/practitioners and for the enormous difference that the University makes with its Community Clinic and outreach services that provide more than 21,000 treatments each year. Ryan introduced the evening’s mistress of ceremonies, television star, Brenda Strong (“Desperate Housewives,” “Dallas”) whose warmth, personality and humor extended further welcome to all.
The University Co-Founder, Dr. Mao Shing Ni recounted the numerous accomplishments of Debbie Allen’s impressive professional and philanthropic careers. Allen has risen to the top in the arts and performing, producing and directing communities, and has simultaneously given back generously to the greater community to promote the health and wellness of others.
One of the surprises of the evening was the appearance of legendary singer James Ingram who serenaded Debbie with his smooth tones of his hit song, “Find One Hundred Ways.” The awed audience rose to their feet in honor of both Allen and Ingram. The sensational Freda Payne took the stage and performed a set of songs. Among the numbers rendered by Freda were the powerful and deeply emotional “Here’s to Life.” Her performance was a tremendous additive in making the tribute to the Yo San University Robert Graham Visionary Award gala, a most entertaining and inspiring event.