*Mirroring his celebrated dance troupe, Evidence, A Dance Company, the Ronald K. Brown 8th annual On Our Toes … in the Hamptons repeated its consistency of excellence under God-kissed sunny skies on the sprawling grounds of the Hayground School in Bridgehampton on Saturday, August 20, 2011 from 4:00-8:00pm.
The event was the picture yum factor from start to finish. As guests flowed into the renowned schools culinary, education and community center, Jeff’s Kitchen, for late afternoon cocktails, Chef David Martinez and his team at Harlem’s critically acclaimed 5 and Diamond Restaurant offered up platter after platter of delectable hors d’oeuvres including mini dogs in puff pastry, mac & cheese bites and Scottish smoked salmon on black bread with Citrus crème fraiche accompanied by specialty cocktails from Belvedere that had guests breaking into their party mode early on.
Event chair Dr. Ancy Verdier, board chairman emeritus Reginald Van Lee, vice chair Joanne Hill and board secretary Gail Monroe-Perry warmly welcomed guests to what has become the premiere African American cultural and social event of the Hamptons season and an annual reunion of dance patrons.
After convivial cocktails, guests were lured to the main tent by pulsating drums for dinner and the start of the evening’s program. The oversized tent, replete with plush bright white canvas sofas and lounges strewn around the spacious tent, put you in mind of a beautiful oasis setting. Adding to the vibrancy of the space were tabletops that were adorned with masses of summer flowers by Bridgehampton Florist Michael Grim; with locally grown dahlias, cosmos, zinnias and sunflowers in vibrant hues adding the right touch of color to the all-white décor.
Numerous food stations decorated by Chef Martinez with tropical fish, exotic birds and fairy tale horses and carriages carved from fruit lent a fanciful Midsummer Night’s Dream effect. Martinez and his professional staff offered a carving station featuring New York Strip Steak and grilled seasonal local vegetable platters, tomato vinaigrette, Herb roasted red bliss potatoes and Brussels sprouts with applewood smoked bacon. Additional stations served Spicy Chicken and Poached Salmon with Saffron broth served on a bed of arugula.
Following dinner, lovely Monroe-Perry welcomed guests and graciously thanked them for their longtime commitment to Evidence, A Dance Company. She then introduced Dr. Verdier who presented awards to honorees Lola C. West, revered managing director, West Fuller Advisors LLC, and artist, educator and activist Jon Snow, co-founder of the Hayground School. Dr. Verdier recognized each honoree for having “effected great change in their respective professions.” West and Snow made especially gracious speeches and cited the enormous gift of Evidence in “chronicling the African Diaspora through storytelling and dance.”
Then it was show time under the tent as master Brown and his amazing dance troupe performed the electrifying perennial favorite “Ife/My Heart,” which was built as the journey of three families to one destination: a place where the heart was open. “Ife/My Heart” was originally commissioned and performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2005.
After a well-deserved standing ovation a winded Brown respectfully thanked his dressed to the nines guests and introduced the company including Waldean Nelson, Lilli Anne Tai, Clarice Young, Annique Roberts, Tislarm Bouie and associate artistic director Arcell Cabuag.
Fabrice Armand took to the stage to begin the spirited live auction. Bidding was feverish for two extraordinary lifestyle experiences. Sonya Pankey snared the week at the exclusive Palmas del Mar in Puerto donated by Lawrence S. Campbell, San Juan, P.R. and Ethan Shapiro & Associates LLC.
Annette Mitchell scored the extraordinary lifestyle experience which included his & hers Baume Mercier watches and his & hers Rebecca Minkoff travel bags as well as four days in Barbados at the exquisite Crane Residential Resort, airfare & tickets to the international Food Rum & Wine Festival courtesy of Barbados Tourism Authority. An online auction of luxury goods and one-of-a-kind experiences organized by Tybie Etoy Dotson continues at www.CharityBuzz.com
The event culminated in a joyous balloon sale manned by board member Reginald Canal to support specific needs of the company from costumes to sets to administration. Within minutes, the tent resembled a circus carnival with guests snapping up all the balloons offered for bid.
With the final balloon snatched up like a gold rush, Canal invited all the dancers back to the floor for the always hot finale to the evening, dancing with the dancers to the scorching sounds of Diversified Sounds well beyond the event’s official end time with dancers making several visits to the yum-filled dessert buffets which were constantly replenished!
Corporate sponsors for the Hot Hampton Happening were Belvedere Vodka, Booz Allen Hamilton, FedEx and Prudential. Sponsors included Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Monica Azare, Khephra Burns and Susan L. Taylor, Dr. Jeanine Downie and Michael Heningburg, Joanne E. Hill, Loida N. Lewis, Gail Monroe-Perry, Larry Satterfield, Jennifer Streaks, Reginald Van Lee, Dr. Ancy Verdier and Verizon.
Event sponsors included: Peg Alston & Burton Willis, Chandra Anderson, Twenty-First Century Foundation, Monica Azare, Darria L. Ball, Tinika M. Brown, Esq., Valerie S. Brown, Alicia Bythewood, Judy Chambers, Doreen Chambers-Monrougie, Glenn E. Davis, Allen Harvey, Luisa Herrera & Manny Garcia, Shaun Massiah & Deirdre Stanley, Leila Schultz & Jack Walsh of BRIC Arts Media B’klyn, Paula Taylor and Joseph Welsh.
The business development committee was comprised of Fabrice Armand, Christy Bareijsza, Tina Bernard, Keenan Davis, Dr. Erika Faust, Latoya Henry, Demetria Lucas, Ron Myers and James Nixon; the live auction committee included Reginald Canal, Andrea Hoffman and Gail Monroe-Perry; and the online luxury auction was headed up by Tybie Etoy Dotson. For more information about Evidence, A Dance Company visit www.evidencedance.com. (Photos by Kurt Leggard)
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.