NDI’s Songs I’ve Sung On Broadway… And One I Wish I Had

by MIchael Mahany | 10/25/2017 2:34 PM

NDI Celebration Dancers and Glenn Close. Photo Credit: Eduardo Patino/NDI


Former New York City Ballet star and legend of the dance world, Jacques d’Amboise knows how to throw a party. A week ago Monday night, stars from Broadway and film rolled into the National Dance Institute’s Harlem Learning and Arts Center for a new performance in the Jacques’ Art Nest series: Songs I’ve Sung On Broadway… And One I Wish I Had. The performance was both a benefit for NDI and a celebration of dance and arts education.


Performers included Broadway star (and, Jacques’ daughter) Charlotte dAmboise, TONY® nominee Norm Lewis, TONY® nominee and former NYCB dancer Robert Fairchild, TONY® winner and six-time OSCAR® nominee Glenn Close, and the students of NDI’s Celebration Team. The invited celebrity performers were each asked to perform a song they’d sung on Broadway, and one they wish that they could. All took to the stage to share stories about Jacques, celebrate theatre and dance, and speak on the importance of Arts Education.


Dance Network spoke with NDI’s Chair of the Board Of Directors, Helen Stambler Neuberger, about Mr. d’Amboise’s leadership, and what it means to the students of NDI to be onstage with these Broadway stars.

“Our beloved Jacques tells us many things and gives us advice, and one of the best pieces of advice that he always gives is, to surround yourself with the best. So tonight, having all these Broadway stars here, means that they are role models and mentors to our dancers,” Stambler Neuberger told Dance Network. “I think arts education is the foundation for being able to succeed in life. When one participates interactively in the arts, you are a partner, you collaborate, you meet people from all walks of life and cultures, and it prepares you for the kinds of interactions that you need as an adult. All in the service to a more humane world.”


National Dance Institute teaching artist Dana Panepinto told DN, “Jacques is thoroughly important to me because, as a young dancer I saw him on the television, it was the first time I ever heard of teaching the arts in an integral way, and using dance as the forum. I [grew up] in Mississippi, so to work under this man’s foundation is amazing.” Panepinto continued, “I think for us, as teaching artists, to be constantly surrounded by professionals who are also inspired by Jacques, inspires us as artists— and, being able to give the children we work with the opportunity to meet these profound people who are making their stamp on the world of dance is so important. I’m just so inspired, and for me and my fellow teaching artists to be inspired, I think that inspires the children.”


Jody Reynard, Charlotte d’Amboise, and Thomas Bevan. Photo Credit: Eduardo Patino/NDI


Charlotte d’Amboise, the current Roxie Hart, and no stranger to Broadway’s Chicago, sang and danced with two of her “boys” — Jody Reynard and Thomas Bevan— one of Roxie’s songs, Me And My Baby, from the successful revival for her first selection. For her second, she sang a song that she’s never sung on Broadway, but one that comes from a show for which she’s quite well known. d’Ambosie who originated the role of Cassie in the 2006 revival company of A Chorus Line made waves with her portrayal, but for last Monday’s event, she opted to sing a personalized version of At The Ballet; a song normally performed by a trio of actresses in ACL.


Dance Network spoke with Ms. d’Amboise after the performance.


Dance Network: Tell us, how is it to be back at your Broadway home-away-from-home, Chicago? Also, you must be exhausted! To be here on your day off, after dancing and performing an eight show week?


Charlotte d’Amboise: Chicago, is a home away from home. It is nice to get a break from the show and do something different. But, it’s great to be doing [Chicago] right now, and I loved coming here and singing for my dad!


Dance Network: Speaking of your dad, Jacques d’Amboise, who founded this incredible Institute that has helped, literally, millions of children since it began— how proud are you of him?


Cd’A: Oh my…Every day, I’m more and more proud every day. I’ve been proud of him my whole life— both my parents. I’ve been blessed. I realized, even when I was a child, from day one, I knew I was blessed. I knew it, being in this family, I knew I had the coolest parents who were artists and survivors and good people, and wanted to give to the world, and I got to grow up in New York City with the best parents in the world. I am constantly and continually proud!


See Charlotte d’Amboise and Terrence Mann’s Interview from NDI’s 2017 Gala


Norm Lewis. Photo Credit: Eduardo Patino/NDI


Broadway superstar and gentleman, Mr. Norm Lewis performed a song from the show for which he was nominated for a 2012 TONY® award— I Got Plenty O’ Nothin’  from Porgy And Bess. His second selection, like d’Amboise, was from a show in which he’s performed on Broadway, but a song by a character he’s not played. He gave a stunning performance of Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. Lewis, who’s never played Jean Valjean, played the role of Javert in the 2006 Broadway revival, on London’s West End, and in the 25th Anniversary concert.

Glenn Close. Photo Credit: Eduardo Patino/NDI


Glenn Close, known to many for her six Academy Award nominations, performed the first solo song she ever performed on Broadway, The Colors Of My Life from 1980’s Barnum. Close, who recently finished up performing the revival of the contemporary classic Sunset Boulevard opted to sing a Rodgers And Hammerstein song for her second piece— Hello, Young Lovers from The King And I.


Robert Fairchild. Photo Credit: Eduardo Patino/NDI


Robert Fairchild, who a week ago Sunday (read: the night before this concert!) took his final bow after a twelve year career with New York City Ballet. Fairchild, who performed as a principal dancer with NYCB, made his Broadway debut in An American In Paris in 2015 (for which, he also received a TONY® nomination), is scheduled to perform in the upcoming New York City Centre production of Brigadoon. For his first song, he sang (and tap-danced) Bianca from Kiss Me Kate. For his second selection, he performed I Got Life from Hair.


*Side note: if you’re familiar with the song I Got Life, he directed the lyrics I got life, mother, I got life, sister directly to his mother and sister, who were both in attendance. Robbie’s sister is well known NYCB principal dancer and Broadway veteran Megan Fairchild.


Dance Network got an exclusive interview with Robbie after his NDI performance. We asked him about his retirement from NYCB and his upcoming theatre projects.


Dance Network: So, you literally just retired from New York City Ballet, yesterday…


Robert Fairchild: (Laughing) LEFT THE BALLET, let’s not say RETIRED


DN: So, you literally just left the ballet, yesterday— kind of a hard question we know, but, what was that like for you?


RF: Well to honest, I was really nervous. Before the show, I was thinking to myself, when the curtain closes, when it falls the last time, am I gonna be depressed? Am I gonna be like ‘oh my god what did i do?’— I have this [thought], like, I could still be in the company, I’m 30, I still feel really great, I’m still dancing well— but, this was very conscious decision to explore my other opportunities and the other horizons, so it was very much a choice. But as soon as the curtain fell, I was just so overjoyed, it just felt so right, and it felt like the right time. It’s so nice to have those markers in life where you get to go, ‘ok! that was the right decision’… and not because i didn't enjoy it, but because it was everything I could have ever imagined.


DN: You, your sister Megan, Justin Peck, Tiler Peck, so many of your contemporaries from New York City Ballet are taking that side-step over to Broadway. You did An American In Paris, and got a TONY® nomination, and now, you’ve got Brigadoon coming up at New York City Center, tell us a little bit about what it’s like to make that leap— so to speak.


RF: Well, it’s not something new. This has been done since Balanchine. He was the first company member to cross over, but Jerome Robbins, [Robert] LaFosse, [Natalia] Makarova, so many people from ABT— it’s just a tradition that we’re continuing. I love that dance is having more of a resurgence on Broadway, I think it’s really important… because it’s the famous saying, ‘when you can’t speak, you sing, and when you can’t sing, you dance’. It’s the evolution of communication, there are certain words you just can’t communicate ,that can only be [expressed] through your body, and it absolutely should be part of theatre.


DN: Thanks Robbie—we agree! Congratulations on tonight’s performance, congratulations on last night’s “leaving the ballet”, and congratulations on Brigadoon!


More: See Justin Peck’s Interview from the NYCB Fall Fashion Gala


More: See Tiler Peck’s Interview from NDI’s 2017 Gala


The National Dance Institute Celebration Team performing Room Where It Happens from Hamilton. Photo Credit: Eduardo Patino/NDI


The National Dance Institute’s Celebration team was a big hit with the audience as well. The Celebration Team, made up of selected children who dance within NDI’s programs, opened the performance with The Joint Is Jumpin’ from Ain’t Misbehavin’. Later in the evening they returned to perform Room Where It Happens from Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton (with choreography by Jacques’ son and former NYCB principal Christopher d’Amboise), and closed the evening with Jerry Mitchell’s You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray.


More: Read ‘An Interview with the Creators of NDI's "Dream Project”'


According to NDI, the Institute, “was founded in 1976 by New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise, and leads the field of arts education with a model program that is replicated worldwide. At the root of NDI’s methodology is the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children—regardless of background, ability or socio-economic status—and motivate them toward excellence.  In addition to programming in New York City, NDI has 12 associate programs in the United States, and one in Shanghai, China. In 2011, NDI opened the doors to the National Dance Institute Center for Learning & the Arts in Harlem, allowing the organization to further its mission and expand its reach. Since its founding, NDI has impacted the lives of over two million children.”


For more on NDI, it’s associate and New York City programming, and performances, visit the National Dance Institute website here.