Terry and Sheldon Adelman, 2019 Dance/USA Champion Award Recipients


Supporting Cleveland’s Dance Community

By Lisa Traiger

Every dance community can use a champion or two. Cleveland is fortunate to have long-time champions Terry and Sheldon “Shelly” Adelman. Next month the couple receives Dance/USA’s Champion Award at the organization’s 2019 Annual Conference. The couple is being honored for their significant contributions, which have advanced Cleveland’s dance community. The Adelmans are long-time supporters of their hometown’s Playhouse Square, the United States’ largest performing arts center outside of New York. Through their time, talent and financial resources, both have demonstrated their commitment to the organization and the Cleveland dance community.

Notable among the Adelman’s contributions to Playhouse Square has been their presenting sponsorship of Playhouse Square’s annual Dance Showcase, a highly anticipated event that showcases some of Northeast Ohio’s finest dancers on the stages of Playhouse Square. The event features a wide range of dance styles from ballet to swing, tango to hip hop. Featured companies in the past have included: C-Town Stompers, ELEVATED, GroundWorks DanceTheater, Inlet Dance Theatre, Kent Dance Ensemble, The Dancing Wheels Company, Travesty Dance Group, Verb Ballets, and Viva Dance. The Adelman’s generous support of the event makes it possible to present it free to the public.

Terry has served on the Playhouse Square board of trustees since 1989. During that time, she has been active on the Community Engagement and Education Committee. Toward this end, Terry’s contributions have helped Playhouse Square provide thousands of events, workshops, classes and more, most with minimal or no fees, to people of all ages from all areas of Northeast Ohio. 

In addition, Terry is a charter member of Playhouse Square’s Leading Ladies. The 200-plus member group was created three years ago to engage women by providing the opportunity to connect with each other through a shared passion for Playhouse Square and its not-for-profit mission.

The Adelman’s demonstration of civic leadership reaches beyond Playhouse Square as both have served on a number of boards, committees and leadership councils. Shelly is an active member of the board of directors of University Hospitals (Cleveland, Ohio), serving as a director and member of the President’s Strategic Advisory Committee, chairman of the Development Committee, and former co-chairman of Ahuja Medical Center. 

Terry serves as a trustee of the Boca Raton Museum of Art. She is also involved in the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and is a member of Lion of Judah. Terry was a past board member of the San Jose Ballet of Cleveland.

Terry and Shelly generously support a broad range of civic organizations including: The Boca Raton Museum of Art, The Jewish Federation (Cleveland, Ohio, and Palm Beach County, Fla.), Agnon School, Montefiore, The Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development, Temple Tifereth Israel, and University Hospitals, where they have been honored as Samuel Mather Award recipients. The couple resides in Boca Raton, Fla., and Beachwood, Ohio. They have two adult children and five grandchildren. 

Terry Adelman graciously responded to our questions on behalf of herself and her husband Sheldon.

Dance/USA: Cleveland has a long history of dance. When did you become interested in dance and what do you enjoy or appreciate about the art form?

Terry Adelman: As a lifelong Clevelander, I became interested in dance when I was a very young girl. My mother studied ballet and saw my interest. She enrolled me in ballet classes in grade school, bringing me downtown once a week to take classes with a Russian teacher. I continued to study ballet through my teen years and, although I eventually shifted my energies to other activities, I never lost my interest in or appreciation of ballet and all forms of dance. 

It is also interesting to note that Cleveland was a very big ballet town when I was growing up. All the big ballet companies would perform here and my parents took me all the time. I had the opportunity to meet some of the most famous dancers in the world backstage, and one of my fondest memories is meeting the great prima ballerina Alicia Alonso, who had just danced the lead in Giselle. It was thrilling!

Simply put, dance brings beauty to the world and has always been a big part of my life growing up. 

D/USA: As long-time donors to Playhouse Square, tell us why you feel it is important to support the performing arts.

T.A.: The performing arts are a vital component to any major city for bringing people together and nurturing the soul. Dance, music and theater provide powerful avenues for communication while bringing peace, beauty and love to the world. Support is also necessary to bring arts education to the schools. At Playhouse Square here in Cleveland, we enrich the lives of thousands of students each year through musical theater performances, workshops, and in-school classes. These experiences can impact the lives of our young people forever. The performing arts make the world a better place. 

D/USA: Will you share with us how you became involved in sponsoring the annual Playhouse Square Dance Showcase. 

T.A.: We knew about the dance program because of our long commitment to Playhouse Square. This appealed to both of us given my background in dance and our mutual appreciation for the art form. What was and continues to be most important to us is that it is free to the public. Every year, the Dance Showcase fills Playhouse Square’s largest theater to capacity, reaching deep into the community and touching thousands of lives. It is wonderful to see families at this event who never before had the opportunity to come together to see a live performance. And the program is very diverse, featuring ballet, tap, modern dance, hip hop, and ethnic dance. There is something for everyone. When we see people leaving the theater smiling and happy, that is just a very special feeling for us. We always will support this beautiful art form and all of the performing arts.

D/USA: What would you tell a friend or colleague about why dance matters and why they should support it?

T.A.: Dance is an outstanding way to show beauty and express oneself through movement. Through dance, so many stories are told. Whether joyful or sad, dance is a great communicator that conveys the depths of human feeling and emotion.

D/USA: What are your thoughts on receiving the Dance/USA Champion Award?

T.A.: We are deeply honored. This award is especially meaningful because we love dance and hope we can share this passion by bringing the beauty of dance to others in the community. We wish to thank Playhouse Square for nominating us and the Dance/USA Host Committee for giving us this award. We are very grateful for what we have in life, and to be able to give back to the community is a true privilege. 

Lisa Traiger edits From the Green Room, Dance/USA’s online journal, and writes frequently on dance and the performing arts for publications, including Dance, Dance Teacher and Washington Jewish Week. An award-winning arts journalist, she is a former co-president of the Dance Critics Association and holds an MFA in choreography from University of Maryland.

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