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October 2011

Turning Dreams of Young Dancers into Reality


Kelly Robotham, a Van Lier Fellowship recipient. Photo by Eduardo Patino

There are 7 billion people on Earth, each with desires and dreams. Sadly, not everyone has the opportunity to accomplish theirs. But when someone does realize their dream, it’s a beautiful moment—and almost always happens with another someone’s help.

The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund has helped hundreds of young artists in all disciplines fulfill their ambitions. In 2009, The Trust awarded a two-year grant of $60,000 for four student fellowships to pay for dancers' classes, living stipends, costumes, and travel at Ailey II, the junior company of the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.


Van Lier Fellow Elizabeth Washington. Photo by Eduardo Patino

The fellowships are awarded to young dancers, from ages 18-24, from poor New York City neighborhoods who wouldn’t be able to train with Ailey or stay in the City without financial help. Members of Ailey II toured the United States and Western Europe doing what they lovedancing and sharing their passion with audiences.

Kelly Robotham, a Van Lier recipient for the 2010-2011 season, dreamed about performing Ailey’s masterpiece “Revelations” since she was 11. She did this while on tour with Ailey II. But that accomplishment was quickly overshadowed by an offer to dance with the main company of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater for the 2011-2012 season. Robotham says, “This year would not have been possible without the extreme generosity and support” of the donors.

Read more about the Van Liers and their legacy >>

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