ABC7 Unite: We Heart Dance breathes new life into NYC's dance scene

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Thursday, April 15, 2021
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A four-performance lineup on the Empire Rooftop is part of Melissa Gerstein and Kimberly Gianellis' new initiative called "We Heart Dance New York City."

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The curtains have been closed for far too long.

"I was doing ballet class from my living room, we were all dancing in our kitchens trying to make the most of the time in quarantine," said Skylar Brandt, Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theater.

After almost a year of darkness, Brandt will be back in the spotlight this Sunday.

"I will be dancing the Dying Swan variation," Brandt said. "It's going to be a wonderful return to the stage after many months of blocking performance opportunities."

Brandt is one of several dancers who will be part of a four-performance series on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel starting at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Guests will be socially distant and required to wear masks.

The lineup is part of Melissa Gerstein and Kimberly Gianellis' new initiative called "We Heart Dance New York City."

"It's a celebration of all types of dance from Broadway to ballet," Gerstein said. "The dance community from the Tri-State area is going to bring dance back to life in New York City."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo relaxed some COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings last month, allowing plays, concerts, and other performances to start again on April 2 at a limited capacity. But Gerstein says the We Heart Dance initiative gives dancers a better opportunity to regain their footing.

"We started We Heart Dance because we were frustrated with the lack of resources for dancers," she said. "Not just performing opportunities, but financial reasons. Dancers need support. This is a fund so dancers can apply for emergency relief."

"In the past year, dancers were jobless, most dancers had to leave New York City because they couldn't afford rent," said Christine Shevchenko, Principal Ballerina of the American Ballet Theater.

Shevchenko says she kept busy by finding performances outside the country and teaching. Last fall, she got into Harvard University. But there is nothing like her first love.

"It feels kind of like a homecoming and I am just so excited to perform live in the city," Shevchenko said.

They will breathe new life into the dance scene.

Click here for ticket information.

ALSO READ | Data suggests 'breakthrough' COVID-19 cases in the thousands across US

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