Patricia Dugan Perlmuth, FCLC ‘79, is a massive fan of dance, and an ardent supporter of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program since its inception more than 24 years ago.
“I support the Denise Jefferson Memorial Fund, it enables dancers who otherwise would not be able to come to Fordham,” she said at a May 2 reception benefitting the program at the Lincoln Center campus. “I’m very joyful about that.”
Dugan Perlmuth said she has a mailing list of friends she invited to the Ailey/Fordham BFA in Dance Benefit Concert, which returned with live performances after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. More than 200 rush tickets were sold for the concert and the evening raised about $32,000.
That night, for nearly 90 minutes, students in the dual program honored the modern dance tradition through numbers drawing from ballet to modern jazz to hip-hop.
More than 120 student dancers are enrolled in the program, which allows students to earn a liberal arts undergraduate degree while also earning a BFA degree through study with the Ailey School, the official school of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The evening drew supporters such as Fordham alumna Delia Peters, who attended Fordham in the 1980s while a full-time dancer at the New York City Ballet company.
Was it hard to balance studies and dance? Not really, said the 1985 graduate.
“The skills we learn as professional dancers serve us very well here. Our papers were never late, we were never late for our tests, because, when that curtain goes up, you gotta be ready with your pointe shoes on, your hair up, your make up on–no excuses.”
Peters majored in the then-new Middle East Studies Program and retired from dancing three years after starting classes at Fordham. However, she continued working for the New York City Ballet in a different capacity before moving on to a career in law.
“I love Fordham. It made me a better-rounded person,” she said, adding that she also supports the Ailey/Fordham BFA program by serving on its benefit committee. “Contemporary dancers, I learned, have a longer lifespan to get into a [dance]company. They can do this. And, if they’re going to do this, then I want to be a part of making it the best it can be. And, it has turned out to be one of the best in the country.”