Students who were awarded scholarships from the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation Sunday night, take the stage. Photo By Jordyn Rolling

As she held back tears, Jenalee Thompson, expressed her gratitude for the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation (NYCDAF) college scholarship she received yesterday.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do (go to college) my whole life and now I finally have the opportunity,” Thompson said.

The NYCDAF has raised more than $4 million in 2015 for students across the country. Thompson is one of 88 dancers who is receiving scholarship money for the college of their choice. The scholarships given out range from $8,000 to $25,000.

Thompson received the award at at the Bright Lights Shining Stars Gala at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in Greenwich Village. The event served as a fundraiser for the NYCDAF, which has raised more than $17 million since 2010 for college scholarships.

The mission of NYCDAF is to expand performing arts awareness while advocating education and high standards of excellence in dance. But in order to participate, students had to participate in fundraising for the scholarship program. For every $1,000 raised, one dancer gets to attend one of the private auditions. The dancers may be affiliated with a studio or can do their fundraising independently

NYCDAF Founder and Executive Director Joe Lanteri said the philosophy of the foundation is to give opportunities to young dancers who cannot afford higher education.

“People have dreams and don’t even consider college because they can’t afford it,” Lanteri said.

Debbie Allen, dancer, director, actress, award winner, was honored with the Ambassador for the Arts Award, which was presented by last year’s honoree Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The award is presented to those who have contributed greatly to the country’s performing arts culture. Legendary singer and musician Roberta Flack was the first honoree back in 2011.

Allen expressed her gratitude for what the NYCDAF does for younger generations by opening doors that were shaded by monetary setbacks.

“We must continue to support,” Allen said. “Let’s keep it (the scholarship program) something that is accessible to more and more young people.”

Chantelle Good was one of hundreds who auditioned on Saturday and also one of the 11 students who were awarded scholarships during the fundraiser. The audition was held on Saturday in New York, which was broken up into two classes, ballet and modern dance.

Chantelle Good, a sophomore in college, was awarded a $12,000 scholarship from NYCDAF Sunday night. Photo by Jordyn Rolling

Chantelle Good, a sophomore in college, was awarded a $12,000 scholarship from NYCDAF Sunday night. Photo by Jordyn Rolling

Good, in her second year at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City,  received a scholarship of $12,000.

“I was lucky to be chosen to receive a scholarship from the NYCDAF, so that will be going toward my education,” Good said.

Good has been dancing for over 12 years and said she’s excited that her passion for dance could have such a big impact on her life.

“I’ve been going to NYCDAF for a few years now, but I’ve been attending their conventions for about four years and following the academy’s national competitions for a while,” Good said.

Incorporated in 1993, New York City Dance Alliance was founded by Lanteri, to create a dance convention in NYC. The scholarship foundation was added on in 2010.

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