These Dance Humanitarians Are Our 2018 Generous Heart Award Recipients

DSL publisher Rhee Gold founded the Generous Heart Award in 2014 to recognize individuals and organizations that do important, innovative work in dance education and provide much-needed services to the dance community. Dance is more than an art form to these award recipients—it is an opportunity to make a difference.

“The 2018 recipients are generous ‘dance humanitarians’ who represent all the good that is possible within our community,” Gold says. “I am excited to once again honor those whose kindness makes our dance world shine bright, and to enthusiastically share their stories with DSL readers.”

This year’s recipients include:

Award-winning choreographer Patti Rutland, founder of BEYONDance, an outreach program that provides dance classes for more than 10,000 public preschool, elementary, and middle school students; and adults with intellectual disabilities; in Dothan, Alabama. The outreach is just one part of a multifaceted dance enterprise overseen by Rutland: other initiatives include a professional jazz dance company of 12 dancers and four apprentices, and a dance studio serving 350 students.

Vicki Silverman, founder and executive director of Em’s Spotlight, a program that brings free classes to more than 600 underserved children, adults with special needs, and senior citizens living in the Kansas City metro area. Silverman, who founded the program 15 years ago in memory of her daughter killed in a car accident, is the program’s sole administrator. Urban core children served by the program receive lessons, drinks, dancewear, and costumes free of charge, along with the opportunity to perform in a public recital.

Dancers Against Cancer founder Noah R. Lands and executive administrator Michelle Colon. DAC provides direct financial assistance to professional dancers, dance studio owners and educators, dance students, and others within the dance community battling cancer. The Los Alamitos, California-based charity has raised more than $1 million through its work with dance schools (called Hope Studios) and in conjunction with the Industry Dance Awards & Cancer Benefit Show, a star-studded gala event held annually in Hollywood. 

The recipients, chosen by Gold and DSL editorial staffers, will accept their awards Saturday, July 28, during the DanceLife Teacher Conference gala luncheon. DLTC is an all-encompassing continuing education conference for dance educators, studio owners, and office managers running July 27 to 30 at The Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Feature stories on each recipient will appear in the July edition of Dance Studio Life.