By: Megan Roche
For Theater Dance Center, it’s time for their annual Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation Gala. On January 25th, the groups that make up the TDC company will once again come together to raise money toward the FCCF.
“The Gala started in 2010 because I had a young friend who died from bone cancer in the fall. I started a conversation with my dancers about how we could help, have an impact or make a difference. Our Ballet mistress had gone through a fight with breast cancer only 2 years before. What I did not know was that I too had breast cancer and would go through a double mastectomy and chemotherapy as we performed our first Gala in January of 2011. Our dancers have now raised more than $85,000 for cancer charities and veteran services since our first gala.” Milene Schetlick, co-owner of Theater Dance Center said.
Schetlick, who has been dancing since the age of three, grew up in a family that loved dance. Her parents, two accomplished ballroom dancers, put her and her three siblings in dance classes at very young ages. Milene moved to New York City at the of 18 on a full scholarship to Joffrey Ballet School. She opened Theater Dance Center in 1991 with Mary Ellen Volz after meeting Volz while teaching at her childhood dance studio. For Schetlick and Volz, the gala holds many emotions.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished with many of our dancers pursing dance. The gala features memorable moments with talented dancers performing for their friends, family, and community.” Schetlick said.
The night of the gala can be an emotional one, for everyone. From the dancers, who do special dedications to loved ones fighting cancer, to the staff who have battled cancer in their own lives. The Gala also lets the dancers feel out their competition routines, all while raising money for a great cause.
“The dancers perform their competition dances for the very first time. We try to raise awareness about our charity and how our audience members can help. This year (as it has been for a few) we are supporting The Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation, A NJ based organization that helps local families whose children are fighting cancer. This charity is very special to our dancers, because they are helping other children like themselves.” Schetlick said.
Theater Dance Center is very grateful for all the community support, especially from their sponsors for the gala’s evening. It’s because of the community support that TDC is able to host a gala year after year.
“Thank you to all our sponsors who have supported our dancers and helped to make our event a success. Burke Contracting, ADD Systems, The Orthopedic Institute of NJ, Maximum Health Physical Therapy, Sal Salafia Construction, North Jersey Aquatics, INFLUGroup, Ambient Event Group, Shaffer Steel Corporation, Falcon Safety/Dust-Off and Dr. Jennifer Kastner at Advanced Performance and Rehabilitation Center.”
Tickets for the gala are available by calling (973) 584-5020. The Gala will be hosted at Mount Olive High School’s Performing Arts Center on January 25th at 6:00 p.m. To learn more about Theater Dance Center, visit www.theaterdancecenter.com.