Dance for the Arts! YANJEP’s Gala, DAZZLE: MAD HOT BALLROOM Dancing Through The Decades, Raises over $200,000 for Arts Education!

Date: May 3, 2017

Denyce Mylson
Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania
609-243-9000 x202
[email protected]

Dance for the Arts!
Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania’s Gala, DAZZLE: MAD HOT BALLROOM Dancing Through The Decades, Raises over $200,000 for Arts Education!

PRINCETON, NJ; May 3, 2017 — On Saturday, April 22, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania (YA), the area’s largest arts education non-profit, celebrated with a special black tie gala, Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom, Dancing Through the Decades at the Princeton Hyatt. The benefit included a performance by students of YA’s Camden Adopt-A-School initiative currently participating in a hip hop dance residency, and a dance competition a la “Dancing With the Stars” where VIP dancers were paired with professional dancers.

Dazzle MHB Dancers

Dazzle VIP and Professional Dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studio – (back row from left to right) Juan Ramirez, Ilya Abdullin, D.A. Graham. Mark Murphy, and Lew Gantwerk (front row from left to right) Joanne Canady-Brown, Michele Siekerka, Samantha Kaiser, Darya Gidaspova, and Tara Barakov.

Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom raised over $200,000 and all donations will support YA in its mission to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts. The generous donations included $52,000 that was raised in a Fund-A-Need Auction for YA’s Early Childhood Initiative to bring arts programs to our youngest learners, led by YA Trustee and Antique Roadshow regular Sebastian Clarke from Rago Arts and Auction Center.

A highlight of the night, five VIP dancers, paired with professional dancers, competed for the disco ball trophy and included Joanne Canady-Brown (Owner, Head Baker of The Gingered Peach in Lawrenceville), Lew Gantwerk (Former Executive Director, Center for Applied Psychology at Rutgers), D.A. Graham (Vice President, Global Integrity Leader at Nielsen Company), Mark Murphy (President, Lead New Jersey), and Michele Siekerka (President, New Jersey Business and Industry Association). They all gave stellar dance performances and after a very close race, Michele Siekerka and professional dance partner from Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Ilya Abdullen, garnered the coveted prize (and bragging rights) dancing to the song “American Woman”.

The amount of hard work and dedication that all of the dancers put into this event was tremendous. When asked why they were moved to commit to being a VIP dancer, D.A. Graham replies, “I have seen first-hand, ‘at risk’ public school children transform their limited opportunities into bright futures as a result of participating in programs like Young Audiences’ and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to stretch out of my comfort zone to support their vision.”

Michele Siekerka shared, “When I learned of the depth and breadth of Young Audiences’ programming and the passion they have for their mission, how could I possibly say no!”

Joanne Canady- Brown, Lew Gantwerk, D.A. Graham, Mark Murphy and Michele Siekerka join the ranks of Dazzle VIP dancers from the past three years including: Barbara Coe, Carol Cronheim, Chris Daggett, Denise Wood Darder, Sue Evans, Dan Fatton, Jill Jachera, Chris Long, Tamara Matteo, Bobby Mascia, Stacy Mattia, Jon McConaughy, and Michele Minter, Katie Hughes Redmond, Jeff Perlman and Bryce Thompson.

Another exciting and inspiring part of the evening was a powerful dance performance by U.S. Wiggins College Preparatory Lab Family School students from Young Audiences’ Adopt-a-School Initiative. The program is an innovative partnership between school districts, funders and Young Audiences that brings arts education back to the underserved school children. Wiggins Elementary School brought the room to their feet with applause when they shared what they learned in a hip hop dance residency taught by Young Audiences’ teaching artist group Hip Hop Fundamentals.

“Wiggins School is grateful to be working with Young Audiences once again,” shared Kelly Wharton Davis, a 6th Grade teacher at Wiggins School. “This partnership has provided our educators with professional development and our students with exposure to various art forms and now an opportunity to perform at the Dazzle Gala! We are thankful to Young Audiences for their encouragement and support to make arts education a priority for the students of Camden.”

The positive feedback from Dazzle guests has been overwhelming. One guest that was new to Young Audiences expressed, “We had a wonderful time–it was by far one of the best fundraisers we have attended! We have been spreading the word about the work Young Audiences provides to our community!” Another shared, “What a perfect evening sharing YA’s mission!  Everyone had a wonderful time. The night was flawless.”

YA Trustee and Gala Co-Chair Liz Fillo expressed, “This kind of success comes when our extraordinary community works together to create opportunities for a great cause. From The Gingered Peach’s “Dazzle Donut” and The Bent Spoon’s Dazzle Donut Ice Cream Sandwich – we were inspired by the many small businesses doing big things to support YA’s mission and our dancers!”

YA President & CEO Michele Russo expressed “This celebration of arts education is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our board of trustees and staff. When arts education supporters – both veteran and new to this cause – come out to support us with donations and enthusiasm, it reaffirms our commitment to serving every child every year with the best in arts education.”

For more information about Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom and to see pictures and performance videos from the evening go to

Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom V received additional support from generous corporate sponsors, including Investors Bank, M&T Bank, NJBIA, Bliss Travels, Borden Perlman Salisbury & Kelly Insurance, Drinker Biddle, Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Princeton, Mathematica Policy Research, Merrill Lynch, NJM Insurance Group, NRG Energy, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and UBS Financial Services.

For partnership, corporate sponsorship opportunities and to be considered as a VIP dancer for YA’s 45th Anniversary Mad Hot Ballroom Gala on April 21, 2018, please contact Denyce Mylson at [email protected] or 609-243-9000 x202.

Michele Siekerka and lya Abdullin-YA Disco Ball Trophy Winners

Young Audiences Disco Ball Trophy Winners Michele Siekerka and Ilya Abdullen

US Wiggins School Performance

Students from Camden’s U.S Wiggins College Preparatory Lab Family School performing at Young Audiences’ Gala Benefit

About Young Audiences

Founded in 1973, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania is the premier arts-in-education resource in the region, providing high-quality performances and artist-in-residence programs to schools in all 21 counties of New Jersey and the 7 easternmost counties of Pennsylvania. Young Audiences’ teaching artists represent all art forms—from dance and theater to music, language and visual arts. Since its founding, the organization has reached over 12 million children with essential arts education experiences.

A not-for-profit organization, Young Audiences’ programs are accessible to all socio-economic, ethnic, cultural, and geographic communities, and are designed to strengthen the arts in schools, meet local and state curriculum standards, involve families in arts activities, and enrich cultural life in New Jersey and Pennsylvania communities.

Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania is the first arts education organization designated as a major service organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and, as part of the national network of Young Audiences, Inc., was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. Young Audiences programs are made possible in part through a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State and Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. Additional funding comes from foundations, corporations and generous individuals. To learn more, visit To be “social” with us, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @YANJEPA and on Instagram @young_audiences_njepa.