The USA TODAY Hollywood Hero Award Honors a Los Angeles Area Entertainment Personality Who Has Made Remarkable Contributions of Time and Energy to Help Those Less Fortunate
Actress, Dancer and Choreographer Zina Bethune Will Be Honored As the Award's First Recipient
Actress, dancer, choreographer Zina Bethune will be honored May 17 as the first recipient of The USA TODAY Hollywood Hero Award. The award recognizes her outstanding contributions to the community through Infinite Dreams, a program of the multimedia Bethune Theatredanse company.
Bethune and Infinite Dreams will be feted at an award gala on the evening of May 17 at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Grammy®- nominated and Jazzweek Vocalist of the Year, The Tierney Sutton Band, will perform at the Gala. Guests include: Martin Landau, Edward James Olmos, Tippi Hedren, Esai Morales, Ray Bradbury, Tara Lipinski, Roscoe Lee Browne, Julie Newmar, Reni Santoni, Stefanie Powers, Veronique Peck, Alison Angrim, Tracy Newman, and James 'Gypsy' Haake.
In an effort to raise funds for the Infinite Dreams program, net proceeds from the event will be donated to Infinite Dreams. Funds will be obtained through ticket sales and silent auction of valuable merchandise.
Infinite Dreams, a dance and drama outreach program, is an acclaimed education and performance program that provides children and teens with disabilities an opportunity to affirm their capabilities by participating in the world of movement and dance. It is the only program of its kind under the auspices of a professional dance company.
"By participating in the arts these student challenge themselves and achieve amazing success," said USA TODAY President and Publisher Craig Moon. "The Infinite Dreams program helps its students develop confidence, which in turn instills in them an affirmation of their own unique capabilities and enriches their quality of life. Zina Bethune and Infinite Dreams embody the spirit of The USA TODAY Hollywood Hero Award."
Infinite Dreams, which launched in 1983, serves more than 1,000 children from the ages of 4 to 16 at nine sites in Southern California. The program has graduated more than 6,200 students.
"The art of dance can really transcend all the physical and stereotypical limitations," said Bethune, artistic director of Bethune Theatredanse and Infinite Dreams. "After all, the spirit isn't disabled. Dance is not how far a child can reach their legs or arms. It is the creation, the sharing, and the partaking that is the beauty. We don't ask, 'How much can you move?' We say, 'Come dance with us.' "
Infinite Dreams has been cited as an exemplary organization by the National Endowment for the Arts and is a recipient of commendations from Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; L.A. Mayors Tom Bradley, Richard Riordan and James Hahn; and a recipient of the U.N.'s "Medaille d'Excellence."
In what will become a USA TODAY signature event, the USA TODAY Hollywood Hero Award will be presented annually to an entertainment personality who has made remarkable contributions of time and energies with a non-profit organization, and has truly enriched the quality of life of others. The USA TODAY Hollywood Hero Award recipient will be unique in that his or her efforts extend far beyond a charitable contribution or simply lending one's celebrity to enhance a cause or concern.
About Zina Bethune
Best known for her starring roles on the ABC prime time series "The Nurses" and the CBS daytime drama "Love of Life," Ms. Bethune has also guest- starred on a variety of series, from classics such as "Gunsmoke" and "Route 66" to "Police Story" and "Party of Five," and in feature films including "The Boost" and Martin Scorcese's "Who's That Knocking At My Door?" In addition to her acting career, she has also been heralded as a prima ballerina with such companies as the New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. She also starred in Tommy Tune's musical of "Grand Hotel" on Broadway.
Bethune's extensive list of credits has been accomplished while faced with serious physical disabilities including dysplastic hips, scoliosis and lymphoedema. Overcoming these physical challenges required nine surgeries, some of which were experimental in nature. Ms. Bethune used her earlier dance training with George Balanchine to not only teach herself how to walk again but also to dance, going on to perform as prima ballerina with the Royal Danish Ballet.
In recent years, Bethune has dedicated her energies and resources to the establishment of Infinite Dreams, her education and performance outreach program that brings the performing arts to children and teens who suffer with disabilities. Her development of a complete methodology for Infinite Dreams empowers its young students to believe their spirit is not disabled and that art can transcend limitations.
About Infinite Dreams
Infinite Dreams, Bethune Theatredanse's dance and drama outreach program, is an acclaimed education and performance program providing disabled children an opportunity to affirm their capabilities by participating in the world of movement and dance.
Bethune Theatredanse-Infinite Dreams has been named an Exemplary Site in the United States by the National Endowment for the Arts. Bethune Theatredanse-Infinite Dreams has received commendations from Presidents Clinton, Bush and Reagan and Senator Dianne Feinstein. The company has also been the recipient of numerous Community Service Awards and Citations from L.A. Mayors Richard Riordan and Tom Bradley, the Governor's committee for Employment of the Disabled, The Media Access Awards, the Pasadena Mayor's Committee, the CeCe Robinson Award, and radio's Citizen of the Week. The children of Infinite Dreams have participated in programs at numerous Special Arts Festivals, Permanent Charities, Telethons and Council for Exceptional Children galas.
Artistic Director Zina Bethune and Infinite Dreams have performed at the White House and the Kennedy Center, which was subsequently televised on the NBC special, "From the Heart." They have performed at the Disneyland Space Theatre, the Young Audiences Concert Series and with Bethune Theatredanse on regional and national television programs including Romper Room, ABC's POV, CBS's Outreach spots, NBC's Kudos, KJH's New Faces, New Beginnings KTLA's Hour Magazine, ABC's Mike & Maty, the Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Children's Variety Club Telethons and were the feature story for KCET's "California Stories."
Infinite Dreams and Zina Bethune were also the subjects of ABC's "Heroes - - Made in the U.S.A." as well as the subject of the PBS documentary, "Heart Dancing."
Funded through private, tax deductible contributions to meet matching grants, and proceeds from the Bethune Theatredanse performances, Infinite Dreams has continuously been the recipient of the California Arts Council's highest award each year in the Artists in Social Institutions category. It has also received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. All publicity and promotion efforts, advertising and administration responsibilities and costs are generously donated by corporations and individuals throughout the Los Angeles area who have long supported in this unique program.