The great and iconic Chita River named an American “Woman of Valor”
By Randy Gener
NEW YORK CITY | Love for the great Chita Rivera continues apace. Rivera will be presented with a “Woman of Valor” Award at June 15 opening night of a new show. According to organizers, the award “honors a woman whose artistic excellence, advocacy and legacy represents the highest level of integrity and artistic vision.”
The company handing out the award is Victory Dance Project (VDP), which was founded in 2014 by dancer/choreographer Amy Jordan, five years after a horrific bus accident almost took her life. That day, she resolved that if she survived, she would do a “victory dance” to celebrate, and launched VDP Project with the mission to “Make the Impossible Possible with the Power of Movement.”
This season, Jordan will return to the stage for the first time since her accident, dancing in a new work choreographed by Christopher Jackson. In appreciation, she is dedicating the performance to the incredible doctors at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Burn Unit, who she credits with saving her life.
Victory Dance Project says that its mission “embodies the ideals of transforming adversity into victory, living a healthy lifestyle through dance fitness, and using dance performance as a tool to inspire and encourage people’s hearts and minds. Amy Jordan encourages everyone to “Dance Because You Can.”
Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and received eight additional nominations for an exceptional 10 Tony nominations, most recently for her starring role in The Visit. She starred in the Broadway revival of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD; the Broadway and touring productions of THE DANCER’S LIFE, a new musical celebrating her spectacular career; and the revival of the Broadway musical NINE with Antonio Banderas.
She trained as a ballerina (from age 11) before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from legendary George Balanchine. Her electric performance as Anita in the original WEST SIDE STORY West Side Story on Broadway and in London brought her stardom, and her career is highlighted by starring roles in THE RINK (for which she won a Tony Award), CHICAGO and KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN (for which she nabbed another Tony Award).
Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009, and received a coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002, the first Hispanic woman chosen to receive this award. In 2016 she headlined at Carnegie Hall and in 2015, PBS’s “Great Performances” aired Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career. Chita’s current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing.
VICTORY DANCE PROJECTS’s 2017 season will play three performances, on June 15, 17 and 18 at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center (MMAC), 248 W. 60th Street. The opening night performance will be followed by an anniversary celebration sponsored by Stoli Vodka. Ticket information and complete schedule will be announced shortly. For further information, visit www.victorydance.org.