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Dancing To Benefit Down Syndrome

A Massapequa resident is set to perform an emotional dance for a cause very near and dear to her heart.

World Down Syndrome Day has been celebrated on March 21 since 2006 to signify the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. Alexander’s Angels and the Down Syndrome Advocacy Foundation are teaming up to present Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day: Believe in the Possibilities. The thought-provocking and fun Long Island celebration will take place on Saturday, March 22 at Adelphi University’s Performing Arts Center in Garden City with proceeds benefiting Down syndrome research.

The event will conclude with a special benefit dance performance “Let the Angels In” at 7:30 p.m. More than a dozen dancers under Massapequa native director/producer/choreographer Juliet Dolan, owner of NuBella Productions, will take the stage of Adelphi’s Dance Theater for an inspirational and entertaining performance to raise funds and awareness for Down syndrome research. A repeat performance will be held on Sunday, March 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. The cost is $25.

Having a sister with Down syndrome makes this a cause very dear to Dolan’s heart and Alexander’s Angels has benefitted from her fundraising dance efforts. Last June, she presented her first benefit dance production, Let the Angel’s In, at the Triskelion Arts’ Aldous Theater in Brooklyn and each of the three performances brought the audience members to their feet all while raising funds and awareness for this worthy cause.

Down syndrome is not the only causes the recent graduate of Queen’s College embraces. Over the past few years, Dolan has combined her passion for dance and helping others to accomplish successful fundraisers with both the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and The Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network benefitting from her dedication to direct and choreograph benefit dance performances.

“NuBella is a philanthropic production company born from the shared desire of inspired dancers to spread awareness for charitable causes,” said Dolan, who is proud to be premiering NuBella in support of World Down Syndrome Day. “Our mission is to highlight the beauty and uniqueness of all ages, shapes and abilities through dance. We hope to continue building our legacy for empowering others through dance.”

Prior to Dolan’s performance, the event will kick off at 4:30 p.m. with the symposium “Why is Down Syndrome Research Important?” Leading experts in the field will provide answers to the question in the concert hall located on the main floor of Adelphi’s Performing Arts Center. The 90-minute symposium will be led by Dr. Michael Harpold, chief scientific officer of the Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation who will address the exciting progress to cognition improvement, including memory, learning and speech; Dr. Xiao-Fei Kong of the Rockefeller University Sponsored Research and Program Development whose presentation includes the difference of the immune system in Down syndrome within the framework of how the human immune system works; and Dr. Patricia White, director of the board of the Research Down Syndrome Foundation who will emphasize the need for support for Down syndrome research.

While the symposium is free of charge, advance registration that includes tickets for all of the event’s activities is required and available online at www.alexandersangels.org/id104.html.

A reception with light fare at $20 per person will immediately follow and provide an opportunity to continue discussing the issues raised at the symposium. It will take place on the second floor Atrium from 6:15 to 7 p.m.  

“Each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. But there is still so much more we can do,” said Vanessa dos Santos, president of the Teddington, England-based Down Syndrome International, promoter of the annual World Down Syndrome Day. The overall goal, said dos Santos, is to “create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome” every year on March 21. To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day, visit www.worlddownsyndromeday.org.