Thirty-Fourth Annual Dancing in the Woods
Dancing for Decades
Carrie Rowlands Johnson
LATHAM – Makeshift chandeliers and delicate tea lights drop from the ceiling, dangling like talented gymnasts, their job to mask and steer attention away from the industrial white tiles they’re anchored to.
Several feet away, boughs of branches claim their own real estate, stretching limb to limb overhead, expertly connecting one post to another. Lighted, decorated pine trees and bouquets of birch branches stagger around the vast space, the collection offering the illusion of a midnight walk through the woods.
Strings of lights fall from ceiling to floor, highlighting tonight’s center of attention, the stage and dance floor.
The most delicious assortment of the pinks, reds and greens that are shrimp, meats and salads decorate long tables clothed in white.
Smiles stretch across bartenders’ faces as they mix, shake and pour.
I am wandering through the vacant, former Kmart building on Troy Schenectady Road in Latham, arm in arm with my blogging partner and one of my besties, Lisa Champagne. Surrounded by this glitz and glamour, I try to conure up images of blue light specials, drugstore finds and discount housewares and clothes. Just as the infamous jumbo red K starts to take shape in my brain, it’s shattered by the contrasting loveliness that is this crowd, ticket holders of the 34th annual Dancing in the Woods gala to benefit the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center.
Admittedly, I was more than a tiny bit excited to learn I would be Dancing in the Woods this year, memories of my 30-something TV news reporter self all but gaping at the champagne-laden tables and clusters of white birch trees that have transformed a variety of warehouse spaces over the years. Marriage, twin 11-year old boys, divorce and a succession of careers had created a more than 12-year time warp since my last venture into this particular event. Tonight, it is just as lovely as my memories, the space generously donated by the Lia family.
A freelance Saratoga society and gala reporter now, events like these lose a tiny bit of their sparkle and shine as they start to number in the dozens… more challenging for the organizers too, as they strive to capture attention and dollars with unique twists and clever marketing.
The New York Players beckon and the party retreats to the dance floor, the true star of this show. Arms wave over head, hips sway and shoulders dip. The smiles are as generous as the donations as the worlds of Albany and Saratoga collide here tonight, and we’re all Dancing in the Woods.
Dancing In the Woods: Blessed Beyond Measure
LATHAM – Each year Albany Medical Center (AMC) Foundation kicks off the holiday season with their annual “Dancing In The Woods” celebration. This benefit raises money for the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer + Blood Disorders at The Bernard + Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center. Though our team covers numerous galas throughout the year, Dancing In The Woods (DITW) is special—special for a number of reasons:
For starters, DITW has been going strong for thirty-four years. This event continues to draw hundreds of guests from across the region – this year my estimate is that over 800+ were in attendance, and, with well above average ticket prices ($250 – $175 for professionals under 40) DITW still manages to bring in the crowd. Some may say it’s about the venue, the décor and the amazing transformation that takes place each year in a unique space – but I don’t believe it’s any of that. I believe 34 years of success is attributed to the cause…
There isn’t one person reading this that hasn’t been impacted by cancer.
Imagine being the parent of a child who receives that diagnosis…
The Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at the Bernard + Millie Dukes Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center is the ONLY provider of care for children and teens with cancer and blood disorders in the Capital Region. It serves 25 counties, and includes a team of five pediatric oncologists/hematologist as well as highly trained support staff including a pediatric social worker and child life specialist.
Their goal is not only to provide cutting edge treatments, but also to provide the emotional support families need during this difficult time. More than 13,000 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed each year with cancer. It is the second leading cause of death in the US. That being said, we are blessed beyond measure to have this facility in our own backyard.
As a mother of four, I don’t ever want to hear that diagnosis for my child. No parent does. But in the Capital Region the Melodies Center will be there. The 800+ attendees who came out to support the cause know that attending events like these help to assure that it will always be so.
A Dancing Gallery