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Dancing with the Stars: Berklee Edition Puts the Fun in Fundraiser

01/02/2024

Dancing with the Stars: Berklee Edition Puts the Fun in Fundraiser The annual dance competition exceeded fundraising goals, fully endowing a new Dance Division scholarship.

By

Sarah Godcher Murphy

January 31, 2024

Audience choice award-winner Wayne Malloy shows off his color guard skills.

Mike Spencer

With each subsequent year, Dancing with the Stars: Berklee Edition sets the bar a little higher, not only as a fundraiser but as a high-energy performance the whole Berklee community looks forward to. This year's event reached new heights in both regards, with 477 donors contributing a little over $31,000-enough funding to fully endow a new Dance Division scholarship.

Named for beloved former Dance Division Director Yasuko Yasi Tokunaga, who led the division from 1989 to 2011, the Tokunaga Scholarship is the second such award to be fully endowed by Dancing with the Stars (DWTS): Berklee Edition. The Dance Division Faculty Award was the first, and it already has proved to be a lifesaver for students who would otherwise be unable to complete their degrees.

I think many of our donors might be surprised by how a relatively small amount of additional aid can make or break a student's ability to remain in school, says Mila Thigpen, chair of dance.

While meeting this important need for students, DWTS: Berklee Edition never fails to bring the fun, she says. Faculty-choreographed performances shine a spotlight on the Dance Division, and give audience members an opportunity to see the stars -i.e., their coworkers and teachers-in a whole new light. I've been told by some staff that Dancing with the Stars: Berklee Edition is their favorite day to come to work, Thigpen says.

This Year's WinnersWith his ginormous rainbow wig, on-point color guard technique, and unflagging enthusiasm, Wayne Malloy, senior project manager in the Office of the President, stole the show-and took home the audience choice award. His routine, Dance the Night, was choreographed and coached by Denise Pons, professor of dance.

Mar a Mart nez Iturriaga, senior vice president for international learning environments at Berklee Valencia, traveled from Spain to compete in the event, and made the trip worthwhile by winning the Mirrorball Trophy for highest team score. Iturriaga's routine-evoking vintage Hollywood musicals of the 1940s and '50s-was choreographed by coach Jim Viera, associate professor of dance.

Mar a Mart nez Iturriaga (center) gets a lift from dance alum Chris Herman (B.F.A. 04).

Mike Spencer

Karen Bell (left) and Anthony Burrell (right) share a moment in their routine, W.O.M.A.N.

Mike Spencer

Natara Gray (center) and student dancers make stunning silhouettes in N Syncopation.

Mike Spencer

Kelly Davidson (left) and Georgia Lipari (right) do the twist in Dirty Dancing.

Mike Spencer

Sergiy Georgiev's tango with Maria Golderg takes a dramatic turn. Goldberg (right) won the Impact Award for most scholarship funds raised.

Mike Spencer

Ruka White (left) gives partner Laks Indrakaran a push in Rehab.

Mike Spencer

Camila Escobar (center) earned high praise from the judges for her Latin dance moves in Que Me Baile.

Mike Spencer

Guest judge Johnny Giraldo (left), of Salsa Y Control, flashes his scorecard at the audience, while fellow judges Tonya Butler (center) and Rob Lagueux (right) look on.

Mike Spencer

A new Dance Division scholarship has been named for Yasuko Tokunaga (left), shown here with Chair of Dance Mila Thigpen, Emiko Tokunaga, and Dean of Dance Tommy Neblett.

Mike Spencer

Chair of Dance Mila Thigpen (far left) joins performers, coaches, and judges for a group photo.

Mike Spencer

Maria Goldberg, senior director of global strategy and innovation, earned the Impact Award for most money raised, with nearly $6,200 from 94 donors. She also won high marks from the judges for her sultry ballroom tango with partner and coach Sergiy Georgiev, associate professor of dance.

Honoring a Dance MentorHaving led the Dance Division for more than 20 years, Yasuko Tokunaga's impact on Boston Conservatory as a whole-and young dancers individually-cannot be overstated. With a scholarship now endowed in her name, Tokunaga's legacy will continue to serve dance students for the foreseeable future.

Tokunaga attended DWTS: Berklee Edition as a special guest, along with her sister Emiko, who also taught dance at the Conservatory and coordinated the Radcliffe Dance Program at Harvard University. To commemorate the new scholarship, a donor's plaque was affixed to chair 105 of row K in the mainstage theater, reading With love and appreciation for Yasuko Tokunaga, for her invaluable dedication to the Dance Division.

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Dancing with the Stars: Berklee Edition Puts the Fun in Fundraiser The annual dance competition exceeded fundraising goals, fully endowing a new Dance Division scholarship.

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