Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dance Spirit

The (slightly) older Hollywood crowd — including Stefanie Powers (who MC'd the event), Julie Newmar, Florence Henderson and Buzz Aldrin — was out in force Wednesday eve for USA Today's first Hollywood Hero award gala. It honored actress, dancer and choreographer Zina Bethune for her contributions to the community through Infinite Dreams, a program of the multimedia Bethune Theatredanse company that's been teaching dance and drama to disabled children and teens for the past 25 years.

Bethune didn't just make a gracious acceptance speech — first, she performed several dance pieces on stage with some of her students ("She wouldn't have it any other way," quipped Powers), including a lively version of "Steam Heat," to standing ovations from the packed house at the Beverly Hilton. In the audience were Ernie Hudson, Jerry Mathers, Tara Lipinski and a tres chic Veronique Peck who, though French, noted that she'd "far rather be here" than at Cannes for the current festival.

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