Remarks by Peter Vrooman at Second International Ballet Stars Gala

Remarks by
Peter Vrooman
Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy
At the Second International Ballet Stars Gala
Ethiopian National Theatre
June 7, 2017

(As prepared for delivery)

Salem and good evening, ladies and gentlemen, friends, and dancers!

Last year, ballet returned to Ethiopia after an absence of 40 years.  Tonight, at the Second International Ballet Stars Gala, we will celebrate the magic of ballet; storytelling through movement; and creative expression through dance.  On stage, you will see classical and neo-classical ballet, traditional Ethiopian Asmari dance, and modern dance.

On stage tonight, we have nine world-class ballet dancers from five countries in Addis Ababa:

From America:  Brooklyn Mack and Joseph Phillips

Australia:  Kristy Lee Donovan, Clare Morehen, and Tom Podesta

South Africa:  Angela Malan and Shannon Glover

Japan:  Ayano Kimura

Chile:  Sebastian Vinet

Joining our international stars are also Ethiopian dance stars.  Melaku Belay of Fendika will be performing, along with Destino Dance Company.  In addition, several disabled dancers will join Destino on stage.

What makes tonight’s performance truly special is that all the proceeds from tonight’s ticket sales will support the Positive Action Community Organization “PACO.”

PACO, a registered charitable organization, supports children who are afflicted by HIV in Shashemene. Tonight ticket sales have raised over 250,000 ETB to provide nutrition, education, medical care, and socio-psychological services to these children.

This event is also testimony to the power of both individuals and public private partnerships.  First, as was the case last year, this event would not have happened without the vision, dedication and limitless energy of Angela Malan, who will also be one of the dancers this evening.  Thank you Angela!

I would also like to thank to all our corporate partners and sponsors for helping make this happen.  Working together, public and private sectors can accomplish more than working separately.

Finally, I would like to give special and sincere thanks to the dancers for giving their time, talent and commitment to this event.  They have amazingly busy schedules, but they have agreed to come here to share their talents, but also to learn from the amazing Ethiopian dancers you will all see tonight.  It is truly wonderful to have such world class dancers join us for a second straight year.

The U.S. Embassy and, I feel confident that my colleague, Ambassador Mark Sawers of the Australian Embassy, agrees with me that both of our embassies are proud sponsors of the Second International Ballet Stars Gala, and we hope the spirit of dance, partnership and cultural exchange continue in the future!

Enjoy tonight’s performances, and let the beauty of ballet and dance transport you!