Manlius dancer and actress Andrea Doto organized a special fundraiser in memory of Susan Alvarez Hughes -- a dearly loved local dance teacher who lost her life to lymphoma in December 2005. Hughes, better known as "Miss Susan" had been teaching dance in the area for years, and operated her own dance studio, the Salt City Moving Company, in Manlius.
The concert, "Keep a Dream in your Heart," held July 27 in the Fayetteville-Manlius High School Auditorium, raised more than $3,000 collected from ticket and refreshment sales, donations and raffles of which local businesses and individuals contributed items. Special recognition belonged to Courtney Shimer, a James Madison University junior and F-M alumnus, who raised about $700 on her own through additional ticket sales and donations. Proceeds from the concert will go to the Central New York Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The audience was comprised of more than 350 supporters that night, with Chip Lockwood among them. Lockwood is the executive director of the CNY Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
"It was such a wonderful tribute to Susan, and [it portrayed] the wonderful influence she had on people," Lockwood said. "And also a tribute to Andrea who spearheaded the event. The Doto family put it all together. They made it happen."
Eighty-five dancers and 19 choreographers participated in the performance.
While the 2007 F-M High School Dance Troupe and several F-M alumni formed the core group of dancers in the show, Hughes' son and Le Moyne College dance teacher Michael Alvarez also appeared in the program.
"It went very well," Alvarez said. "They pulled [the event] off magnificently."
Hughes' young son Connor Hughes also participated by drawing the raffle ticket winners.
Other dancers who partook in the event came from seven local studios: United Academy of Performing Arts in Oneida; Always Dancing in Baldwinsville; The Dance Studio of Manlius; Syracuse School of Dance; Tawn Marie's Dance Centre in Liverpool, CMC Dance Company in Cicero; and Guzman's Dance Studio in Fayetteville.
As well, a classical Indian piece choreographed by Dr. Sudha Raj and performed by Haritha Sishtla and Mina Raj.
"This show was everything I wanted it to be and much more," Doto said. "When the audience stood up during the curtain call, it made all the hard work completely worth it."