Harry Halpern, Patriarch of Low Cost Housing in County Dies at 91

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WPCNR Milestones. Special From Geoff Thompson. March 31, 2002 – Harry A. Halpern, patriarch of one of Westchester’s most prominent real estate and development families and a pioneer in the construction of low and moderate income housing as well as office space in Westchester County, died today at his home in Palm Beach, FL. He was 91.

As the senior member of the Halpern family beginning in the 1930s, and working in tandem with his brother-in-law, Fred Stillman, Harry Halpern expanded a residential apartment construction company founded by his father, Morris, into one of the largest residential and commercial development companies in the region.

Halpern’s real estate enterprises include Halpern-Stillman Development Co., H&S Management Co., that manages more than 6,000 units of low and moderate income housing in Westchester County, and Halpern Real Estate Development Co., which owns Westchester development parcels that could yield more than two million square feet of commercial office space.

In the 1960s, Halpern and his son, Joel, partnered with baseball legend Jackie Robinson to become one of the leading developers of low and moderate income housing in New York State under the Urban Development Corp. (UDC) housing program. Following Robinson’s death in the early 1970s, his widow, Rachel, became the Halpern’s partner and was involved in roughly half of the thousands of units of UDC housing they built.

In the 1970s, working with Joel, who died in a boating accident in 1981, the senior Halpern was a pioneer in the development of office space in Westchester County. Together they developed and managed a portfolio of office space that at its peak totaled more than three million square feet of office space, primarily in Tarrytown and White Plains.

In 1994, the company’s office portfolio was sold to Reckson Realty Associates, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, which is now one of the largest office space owners in Westchester.

Jon Halpern, who eventually succeeded his father, Joel, as head of the company, said that his grandfather remained a strong presence within the family businesses virtually until the end of his life. “Harry was always behind the scenes. My father got a great deal of publicity, and in later years, I did, as well. But, frankly, without Harry, there really wouldn’t have been anything to talk about. He built the company and financed its growth.”

Jon Halpern added that his grandfather twice provided the financial and emotional underpinning that allowed the family business to expand. “Harry had the confidence and the interest in my father to give him the backing that enabled us to enter the office market in a big way. When his only son died so unexpectedly, my grandfather stepped into the office aspect of the business to a far greater degree than he had ever imagined he would need to. With his son-in-law, my uncle, Warren Lesser, he kept the company together. When I finished college and entered the business, he once again provided the backing and support that made it possible for me to move the company forward. He showed a great deal of courage through some very difficult times.”

Harry Halpern was born Jan.10, 1912, in New York City to Morris and Yetta Halpern. Upon graduation from the New York University school of law, he joined his father in the real estate development business. From the 1920s to the 1940s, the company built thousands of apartments in 30 to 40 buildings in the Bronx.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Harry Halpern joined with his brother-in-law, Fred Stillman, and together they moved north building dozens of six- to eight-story apartment buildings mostly in Yonkers, particularly along the Bronx River Parkway corridor.

When his son, Joel, entered the business, the company expanded its role housing construction, with particular focus on the low and moderate income sector.

Then, when the suburban office market in Westchester was in its infancy, Joel, with the backing of his father, created a separate company that pursued the office market. The company, along with Schulman Realty and the Robert Martin Company, quickly emerged as one of the big three office developers in the Interestate 287 (Cross Westchester Expressway) corridor. From the early 1970s through the sale to Reckson in 1994, Halpern Enterprises dominated office development on the western end of the highway corridor.

“Harry was a pioneer in affordable housing construction, and then in the development of the office market in Westchester, which to this day is the backbone of Westchester’s economy,” said Jon Halpern. “Beyond that, however, he was dedicated to his family. For six decades and for four generations of our families, he has been the leader. He had two interests, family and business, and his legacy lives on.”

In addition to his grandson Jon Halpern of Purchase, NY, and son-in-law, Warren Lesser of Harrison, NY, Harry Halpern is survived by his wife of 66 years, Sylvia Stillman Halpern of Palm Beach; his daughter, Linda Lesser of Harrison; grandchildren, Julie Cook of Alabama, Jason Halpern of Purchase, Mark Lesser and Beth Lesser of New York City; and 10 great grandchildren.

Harry Halpern and his wife lived in New Rochelle for 40 years before they began dividing their time between Palm Beach and Westchester over the last decade. In New Rochelle they were very active members of the Beth El Synagogue-Center, where the religious school is named after them. He also generously and quietly supported Hadassa and the UJA.

A funeral service will be held at the Beth El Synagogue this Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

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It’s Opening Day! All Is Forgiven.

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WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK. By John Baseball Bailey. March 31, 2003: There is magic in the air. The breezes are crisp out of the Northwest, the sky is robin’s egg blue, the temperature is in the upper 40s and the Metropolitans open up today at old Shea Stadium, now the third oldest stadium in the National League, while the Bronx Bombers open in Skydome in Toronto. Meanwhile the White Plains baseball and softball teams games today have been postponed because of the cold and wet grounds.



Old Comiskey Park, Chicago, 1975
Photo by WPCNR SPORTS


Ball is like that girl friend that you can never really forget or get out of your system. No matter how badly she treats you you’ll keep coming back because she’s just so terrific. She’s really got a hold on you.

WPCNR watched the opening night ESPN game Sunday evening where the Texas Rangers actually completed a 9-inning game in three hours and 10 minutes, outpitching, yes, outpitching the Anaheim Angels, 6-3 to open officially the Major League baseball season.

The ball may be juiced, the pitching may not have those stalwarts who can go nine innings any more, the hitters may have little league fences to launch their blasts, but the rich green of the outfield, the snap of the thumb or fist in the umpire’s out sign, the diving catch, the bang-bang-bang of the round-the-horn twin killing just snaps you to attention. The majesty of an A-Rod Rocket, the snap of Urbina curve ball falling off the table. The concentration of eye, hand and glove. The reaction to snare the bullet drive. So good to be back again.

Man, how I have missed it. I’ve been gone a long time, ever since the strike of 1994 made me wake up and grow up, but I have missed her, old baseball. Being maudlin over what once was and was now lost. The game is different, but it’s better.

Baseball whether it’s in a sandlot or Turner Field, little show or the big show, suspends time and glides on forever. At odd times, I remember old plays I’ve seen in person. I remember great moments where players I’ve admired whether 12 years old or 42 years old have come up big time in the summer sun. Those that have enjoyed those moments hold on to them forever, while we who did not have the courage to stride on the field when it was our time, we watch and envy and preach “The Gospel of the Game.”



PREACHING THE GOSPEL:Ted O’Donnell, “Creator of Champions,” the White Plains Tigers Softball Coach, supervising his new generation of Tigers last week, watches Emily Lettieri hit, preparing for the opening of the season. With O’Donnell at the helm, White Plains has won six of the last seven League 1-A Championships.
Photo by WPCNR SPORTS


It’s a game where failure is the norm, and success is rare achieved only through dedication through a lifetime. It’s a mindgame where you have to outthink your opponent then extend yourself athletically to beat them when they outthink you. It will drive you to be your best, and drive you out of your mind.

It’s a game that takes place in a magical holy place: the ballpark, ballfield, the yard, where juries of brooding upperdecks, ramparts of high walls, and colorful cacophonous advertising signs flash a dazzling scenery of excitement to set off choreographed leaps and feats and throws.

The game is like a winding trail in the West, you never know where the game will take you and what you will see. Nothing is ever a sure thing because the human element is always inspired anew each game. To stride to the plate, take the mound, go to a position, shield your face from the sun, position for a hitter, feel the slap-thwock of baseball or softball hitting weathered leather. To keep your composure after you fail and look to the next at-bat, the next pitch, the next chance, the game demands mental toughness and self-confidence. A game where you have to beat the other fellow or gal, and no clock saves you. It is a game not for the faint of heart or mind. It is a game for the believer.

It is a game that breaks your heart, just like that old girl friend used to do, but we endure the pain for the pleasure of her smile and that thrill of the game that goes on plays out its schedule and always welcomes you back.

This is one of The Game’s high holy days where we take communion again in the playing of the National Anthem, throwing out the first pitch, singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and enjoying a foamy crisp cold golden one even when it’s 45 degrees and the wind off Long Island Sound is blowing in your face.

Filling in the scorecard again. Circling a great play in the scorebox. Counting up the strikeouts and the walks. Arguing over hit or error. Analyzing the pitcher’s motion. Listening to “Beah..heah,” from the vendors in the stands. ( Beer never tastes better than at a ballpark.) Yeah, and as Bogey said, “a hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.”

Thanks ball, I needed that.



AROUND COMES THE RIGHT ARM, and Ashley Encarnacio fires the first pitch in a scrimmage Friday for the White Plains Junior Varsity. Ashley fanned 10 in five-inning game with Rye Neck.
Photo by WPCNR SPORTS

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“Captain Larchmont” Sails INto Indian Ocean Looking for Fast Trades

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WPCNR ADVENTURER’S LOG. From Cynthia Goss. The Indian Ocean, March 30, 2003: Westchester’s Adventurer, Rich du Moulin of Larchmont and Rich Wilson of Rockport, Mass., sailed their 53-foot trimaran Great American through the Sunda Strait and entered the Indian Ocean at sunrise on March 29. For Rich Wilson (Rockport, Mass.) and “Captain Larchmont,” Rich du Moulin passing through the Strait was a milestone: it marked the end of a slow frustrating passage through the South China Sea and, hopefully, the dawn of new fortunes in their 15,000-mile non-stop run from Hong Kong to New York.
This duo on GAII is lagging behind their nemesis Sea Witch, the clipper
ship that set the Hong Kong-New York record in 1849. But according to
Wilson, the stage is set to make some gains.

“The last 24 hours were the best since leaving Hong Kong,” reported Wilson in his log, after a full day of sailing on the Indian Ocean. “The boat’s making good time, but we can see some really fast days if we can get more wind in the trades.”

The position of the trade wind belt fluctuates with the seasons. When Sea Witch sailed out of Sunda Strait in January 1849, she had to sail further south to catch this band of breeze. But for GAII, the tradewinds are within closer reach.

“Sea Witch headed due south for the first several days out into the Indian Ocean, then she got deep into the trade winds before turning west,” reported Wilson. “Her time of year, January, would have had the trade winds further south: so her very good time of year for the South China Sea was not as good for the trade winds in the Indian Ocean. Our very poor time of year for the South China Sea was late enough to give us trade winds further north. . . So we have a good chance now to catch up.”

The passage through the 100-mile Strait was a final trial that capped the first leg of their passage. In the Strait, Wilson and du Moulin had to
temporarily abandon their watch system so they could navigate upwind
through narrow passes, short tack through channels that skirted the busy main shipping channel, and tack through the islands on the Indian Ocean side of the Strait.

“We first spent four hours tacking among giant oil platforms that congest the area,” wrote “Captain Larchmont,” du Moulin of their passage through the Strait. “Then we had to short tack through the narrow channels of the Sea Conservation Area with its reefs and small islands. This was a shortcut that allowed us to avoid the busy main shipping channel. Then for 40 miles we continued to beat into the ever-narrowing Strait until at sundown we sailed through the narrowest portion. We had a beautiful sunset view of an old volcano on Sumatra and an industrial view of a giant coal burning power plant on the Java side, with smokestacks that must have been 300 feet tall.

“We spent most of the night tacking around islands on the Indian Ocean side of the Strait. Rich Wilson and I pretty much had abandoned our watch system 24 hours earlier. We were tired but our work was not quite over. The wind was increasing so we had to put in more reefs to reduce sail area. Strong currents kicked up some unpleasant bumpy waves that had the entire boat jumping and shaking like a dog with fleas. By dawn we were very tired, but the sight of Sunda Strait behind us made it all worthwhile.”

For the past two weeks, floating on glassy seas, being becalmed, and
ghosting slowly in light zephyrs built a mounting frustration for these
two sailors as they logged slow progress and watched the path of Sea Witch slip further away. But the passage so far has not been without its
excitement.

Sea Snake Encounter

Late last week, Rich Wilson had a close encounter with a sea snake while swimming and cleaning the two outer pontoons. “I yelled ‘Sea snake!’ ” reported du Moulin, “and Rich Wilson swam like Tarzan dragging me along until he reached the stern where he quickly boarded. The sea snake wandered off, probably for fatter prey. In some regions these animals are poisonous; we are not sure about this one, but didn’t want to experiment.”

They also prepared for a potential punch from an approaching waterspout; but the system fortunately dissipated before it reached them. The one rite both sailors missed was sailing under the shadow of the great volcano Krakatoa as they passaged through the Sunda Strait.

“We were saddened at the thought of sailing past the great volcano Krakatoa in the dark,” lamented du Moulin. “But it is so big, that we could still see it in the distance poking its conical black form up into the early morning clouds.”

While working 24/7 to get to New York as quickly as possible, Wilson and du Moulin have been busy corresponding with schoolchildren who are following their live adventure in a unique educational program called sitesALIVE!

Children have emailed questions about sailing, life at sea, leaving port,
and wildlife; both sailors have written back with answers to help make this voyage a vivid learning experience for some 360,000 children.

Great American II now faces some 5,400 miles of sailing through a remote Indian Ocean passage before reaching the southern tip of Africa and turning north into the Atlantic Ocean. To beat Sea Witch’s record of 74 days 14 hours, the two sailors must arrive in New York the week of May 26.

* * *

HOW THE PUBLIC CAN FOLLOW GREAT AMERICAN II: The website tracking the voyage of Great American II is http://www.sitesalive.com. Daily position reports and a Captain’s Log are posted on the site so classrooms, students, and families who purchase licenses can follow the progress of the boat. For information, go to http://www.sitesalive.com/oceanchallengelive/.

The saga of GAII will also be published in a number of daily papers, in the Newspaper In Education supplements, and tracked on the AOL@SCHOOL program (keyword: sitesalive).

Great American II’s Newspaper In Education participation in seven national daily papers is supported by the sitesALIVE Foundation. Established in 2002, the Foundation addresses teacher training in computer technology and funding for budget-constrained schools. The mission of the foundation is to enhance K-12 education by promoting the use of technology with real-world, real-time content from around the globe.

For a chart showing the relative positions of Great American II and Sea
Witch, go to http://www.sitesalive.com/ocl/private/03s/pos/ocl3position.html

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Adam In Albany: Assembly Passes Clergy Reporting Bill, Small Biz Pkg

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WPCNR’S ADAM IN ALBANY, By New York Assemblyman Adam Bradley. March 29, 2003:This week the Assembly passed various bills improving the quality of life for Westchester families, including legislation to help small businesses thrive and a bill requiring clergy to report abuse. These bills are part of the Assembly’s continuing efforts to improve the state’s struggling economy and ensure the safety of our families.

Holding clergy responsible to report abuse

Child abuse is one of the most heinous crimes there is, and it inflicts a lifetime of pain. That’s why I recently supported a bill giving clergy the same responsibility to report abuse that other trusted professionals like teachers and doctors already have (A.1516).

This legislation would also require religious institutions to review old allegations of child abuse lodged in the last 20 years, as well as allegations against current clergy members.

This legislation, along with the Assembly statewide Amber Plan law, will help protect Westchester’s children from predators.

Helping small businesses revitalize NY’s economy

On the economic front, the Assembly passed a package of vital legislation to ensure small businesses receive much needed support that will help them compete with larger businesses. Small businesses create eight out of ten jobs in New York, and considering the fiscal crisis facing our state, it was even more important to provide them with assistance.

The economic package we passed included:

· Requiring the state Department of Economic Development to give small businesses and entrepreneurs priority consideration for assistance (A.3913);

· Authorizing credit unions to participate in the Excelsior Linked Deposit program, which provides small businesses with low-cost loans (A.2078);

· Allowing small businesses to defer payments of telephone installation charges for up to one year, cutting start-up costs (A.4531); and

· Providing environmental compliance assistance through the Department of Economic Development (A.314) and the state’s Industrial Effectiveness program (A.1512).

These bills are a small step toward improving our economy and making Westchester a safer place to live. I will continue to support legislation which improves our ailing economy and protects our children.

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White Plains Frank Limone Assumes Problem Gambling Post

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS PEOPLE. From Westchester Jewish Community Services.:White Plains resident Frank Limone, CSW, CASAC, NYGTS, has been named to the Board of the New York Council on Problem Gambling in Albany, NY. The Council grants certification to counselors who have met the criteria for providing high quality treatment services for pathological and problem gamblers and those affected by their gambling.

A certified Gambling Supervisor, Mr. Limone is Coordinator of the Problem Gamblers Recovery Program (PGRP) in Mamaroneck, which is sponsored by Westchester Jewish Community Services. In addition to providing counseling to problems gamblers, he also trains and supervises other counselors.

The Problem Gambling Recovery Program (PGRP), the only one of its kind in Westchester, offers gamblers, their families and other loved ones a comprehensive clinical program aimed at achieving abstinence from problem gambling. PGRP services include individual and family counseling and referral for self-help and social support services. For more information, about the PGRP call 381-5560.

WJCS also sponsors “Don’t Bet Your Life Away,” a support group for men and women with gambling problems, which meets at the WJCS Hartsdale Office, 141 North Central Avenue. Anyone interested can call 761-0600, ext. 755.

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China Seas: Sea Witch Lengthens Lead Over Great American II

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WPCNR ADVENTURER’S LOG. From Cynthia Goss.March 27, 2003 2°55’S 108°46’E / South China Sea. Fighting in light
airs to get clear of the South China Sea, the two-man crew of the trimaran Great American II, including Westchester’s own Rich du Moulin of Larchmont, is now trailing the ghost of the extreme clipper ship Sea Witch by three and a half days in its attempt to set a new sailing record from Hong Kong to New York City.

Aboard their 53-foot trimaran, American sailing adventurers Rich Wilson (Rockport, Mass.) and Rich du Moulin (Larchmont, N.Y.) have set their sights on eclipsing the Sea Witch’s 154-year-old sailing record on a non-stop 15,000-mile, seven-week voyage to New York. Their saga is the focal point of an interactive educational web program called sitesALIVE! to bring live adventure to 360,000 school children.

Great American II was 1,680 miles south of Hong Kong and just 230
miles northwest of Djakarta on Thursday, approaching Sunda Strait, marking the exit from the South China Sea into the Indian Ocean. On the chart, the corresponding position for Sea Witch was just west of Christmas Island, some 500 miles ahead after ten days of sailing.

“It is a very tough and frustrating passage down the South China Sea,” Larchmont’s du Moulin reported today via satellite email. “The wind always seems to die, just when we are getting used to moving along. It is rare for us to achieve 12 hours of continuous sailing without running out of wind.”

Strong northeasterly monsoon winds blessed Sea Witch with a string of daily averages over 200 miles in the early days of her voyage while, apart from a couple of good days with long runs, Great American II has had to contend with light and variable conditions.

“Great American II can ghost along with very little wind,” du Moulin added. “She is very sensitive and fun, but light wind sailing takes a lot of work. Just when we have set the spinnaker, the wind direction or velocity changes and we have to take it down and put up the reacher. With their associated gear, these sails are quite heavy and changes are time consuming.

“When we gybe the spinnaker it takes about ten minutes from start to finish and then the wind shifts and we have to gybe back. We’re not complaining but ten days of these conditions with Sea Witch screaming away from us at top speed has been difficult. We know we have a challenge ahead but we believe we can still do it.”

After encountering heavy commercial shipping and myriad fishing boats in the early days of the voyage, Great American II is again back in the main trade lanes and ship sightings have been frequent.

“We’ve seen one cruise ship, plus many tankers and bulk carriers, and
always the fishing fleet – this time mostly from Borneo. There are
beautiful colorful “mother boats,” with long booms for nets, that are also taking care of the many smaller boats which follow them around. Fishing boat motors make the loudest pulsating, putting sound. You can hear them miles away. What would the folks from OSHA say!”

After crossing the Indian Ocean Great American II will round the Cape of Good Hope before heading north into the Atlantic Ocean on course for New York’s Statue of Liberty. To beat Sea Witch’s record of 74 days 14 hours, the two sailors must arrive in New York the week of May 26.

* * *

HOW THE PUBLIC CAN FOLLOW GREAT AMERICAN II: The website tracking the voyage of Great American II is http://www.sitesalive.com. Daily position reports and a Captain’s Log are posted on the site so classrooms, students, and families who purchase licenses can follow the progress of the boat. For information, go to http://www.sitesalive.com/oceanchallengelive/.

The saga of GAII will also be published in a number of daily papers, in the Newspaper In Education supplements, and tracked on the AOL@SCHOOL program (keyword: sitesalive).

Great American II’s Newspaper In Education participation in seven national daily papers is supported by the sitesALIVE Foundation. Established in 2002, the Foundation addresses teacher training in computer technology and funding for budget-constrained schools. The mission of the foundation is to enhance K-12 education by promoting the use of technology with real-world, real-time content from around the globe. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.sitesalivefoundation.org.

Some 360,000 students are expected to follow the voyage of Great American II.

For a chart showing the relative positions of Great American II and Sea
Witch, go to: http://www.sitesalive.com/ocl/private/03s/pos/ocl3position.html

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Eastview Middle Schoolers Return From Washington.

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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. March 27, 2003: Thirty sets of parents greeted the Middle School Wings Class Thursday evening as their charter bus pulled into the Eastview parking lot after spending two days in Washington, D.C. The field trip was the first of the district field trips to be conducted since the AmerIraq War began one week ago. Anxious parents stoically agreed to proceed with the trip, feeling it was the thing to do.



ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL: Parents and teens reunite after an anxious two days in the heavily guarded nation’s capitol. The Eastview Wings bus pulled into White Plains at 9:45 P.M., successfully ending a field trip that was carefully monitored by school authorities.
Photo by WPCNR News



PARENTS AND CHILDREN REUNITE: The Eastview Washington trip ended with collective hugs and sighs of relief from White Plains parents greeting their teens Thursday evening. The White Plains students viewed Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Holocaust Museum and toured the United States Capitol, though area congressmen did not make time to see the children.
Photo by WPCNR News

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Get on Up and Dance! Performances the Goal for White Plains City Center Dancers

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS STAGE DOOR . By John F. Bailey. March 27, 2003: White Plains own serious dance troop, the City Center Dancers in business for just six months go where the dancing is, and they have the talent to “make the cut.”



TA-DA! City show buffs have seen the engaging, hip-twisting teens in action at the Columbus Day Parade and the Fort Hill Players More Than Music production in January. This Saturday a contingent from Dina Giordano’s studio at 236 East Post Road, selected on the basis of a videotape audition will perform with seven other dance schools across the county at the DRADance Invitational at Pepsico Theatre Performing Arts Center in Purchase at 7 PM Saturday night, for the benefit of AIDS victims.
Photo by WPCNRStageDoorCam


Dina Giordano, long time dance instructor in Westchester County, founder of City Center Dance, Inc., in September, 2002 is very excited about the opportunity: “This is the first time they’re doing a dance invitational in Westchester County. Back in the fall of 2002, I submitted a video tape because I have a 12-hour dance marathon each December. So I submitted a tape. We were accepted, and the piece that we are actually doing this Saturday night we debuted over there with this group of girls in this particular company. They asked us to come back so we are now taking part in the first annual Westchester dance invitational. All the money goes to their organization which they distribute to different AIDS organizations for research and medince. As far as I know it’s a 100% donated.”

The girls will perform two numbers in the dance showcase. Tickets are available at $25 a piece and may be purchased by telephone at 251-6200, by pressing “3”.



TAPPING ON BROADWAY: Performing in the benefit will be White Plains residents, Jason Kaplan out front, with Amanda Culp nearest camera and Stephanie Kaplan, tapping up a storm in rehearsal Wednesday at the City Center’s spacious studios at 236 East Post Road.
Photo by WPCNR StageDoorCam


Other performers in the DRADance Invitational from White Plains are Lauren Cokeley, Dana Jacobowitz and Alison Lipman. Dancers appearing in the program include Lauren Bernard, Jessica Yubas and Gilian Rappaport from Harrison, and Gabyu Migoya, Clare Galterio and Jill Tatarzewski from Bedford.



DELICATE DUET: Clare Galterio, closest to camera, and Jill Tatarzewski of Bedford perform an elegant pas de deux in Saturday’s performance.
Photo by WPCNR StageDoorCam


Goal is to Perform Regularly.

Dina Giordano’s goal in starting the City Center Dance is to book the girls for volunteer performances wherever she can get them around and performing in the area. Dance studios traditionally, she says, teach their students all year, culminating in a dance recital in the spring. Giordano does that too, but offers her students variety.



ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, Dina Giordano says students get bored working on the same routine for months. She grooms her dancers, listens to their tastes in music, and creates different numbers they like. She’ll even create dance numbers on request from organizations featuring different groups of her dancers.
Photo by WPCNR StageDoorCam

She has a recital at the end of the year, too, but the different local bookings keep her students interested, enthusiastic about their dancing, bringing the thrill and experience of performing to students more than once or twice a year.

Over 200 Dance with the City Center Dancers

Giordano currently has 120 kids and 120 adults taking classes at her showcase on East Post Road. “I would definitely like to see that number grow, because we have such a beautiful big space, It’s 6,200 square feet with three studios that are approximately 38’ x 26’ each. That’s really large so we have capacity. We’re open Monday through Thursday for general classes. Friday we have no classes and Saturday we do rehearsals because I run several dance teams in the area. I run the White Plains High School Dance Team, Fox Lane Dance Team and Harrison High School Dance Team.”

No “P.I.L.O.T.” for Ms. Giordano. She Saved Her Pennies.

Ms. Giordano, hailing from Harrison, saved her own money and contributed a third to the cost of building the studio. Dina’s Dad, Michael Giordano of Ser-Roc Building Corporation built her studios at cost for her. She did not have to borrow money to open the studio.

Asked how she got clients, Ms. Giordano said she advertised, but “Really, I’ve been dancing for so long. I’ve been teaching in the Westchester County area for the past 13 years, so a lot of the kids know me by name. So what I did when I first started advertising, was to really to market on my name. They knew that Dina was coming to White Plains and she was opening up her own studio here. That helped tremendously because I already had a base, but my base is very widespread. So to get it narrowed down a bit we started targeting some marketing areas in White Plains and the local papers like the Westchester Parent and Westchester Family to get the people who don’t know me and live in the area.”

Lessons Learned

WPCNR asked why she wanted to start her own studio:

“When I was younger, I actually had no ambition to start my own studio. I thought it was too much work, very difficult, spreading the artistic aspect with the business aspect. Just slowly, as I got older, I was less and less happy working for somebody else, and then the opportunity came to pass to go into a partnership.”

Ms. Giordano was in partnership in a studio in Bedford the last two years before beginning City Center Dance last September.

“I went into a partnership for the first studio I opened and it was a wonderful learning experience. I learned so much through that. But it is really difficult which I found out to work with partners, which I’m sure a lot of people know. Right now, I’m a sole owner and it’s wonderful. I love it. The stress is my own the business is my own and it’s totally different.”

Teen Explosion

“The most unexpected thing was the biggest age group I anticipated to come and sign was the younger age, first, and second and kindergarten. And the exact opposite happened. The biggest age group was the teenagers. What that said to me was they were not happy dancing where they’re dancing. They’re looking for something different that I can provide, which goes back to songs they like, stimulation, changing the routines, changing the music, listening to what they have to say. I ask them. I ask them what songs you listen to, is there anything in particular you’d like to see them done.”

“Of course, there’s always the basics, but why not teach the basics to music they really want to here. They get so excited about it.”

The City Center Dance Difference: No Auditions. No Solo Company.

“One of the big things right now that makes City Center Dance different is I don’t have a single performing company. A lot of schools in the area hold auditions for one performing company and then those kids get to perform throughout the entire year. I have broadened that and tried to offer different performance opportunities to different kids. The kids you saw tonight are mostly older children so they are going out and doing the DRA and the Dance Fest and things like that.”
Giordano offers performing ops for the younger dancers, too: “ But I have a younger, depending on what we’re doing I offer it to the younger kids too. We did the White Plains Columbus Day Parade. We are doing a performance at the March of Dimes, a Walkathon on April 27. I mentioned White Plains High School, I’m bringing them there. I believe in letting as many kids have the opportunity to perform as possible…the ones I feel are appropriate for which level whether it’s appropriate for the younger kids or the older kids and go from there.”

City Center Dance Seeks Volunteer Gigs for All Her Students.

Ms. Giordano’s tireless ambition to work and develop her students has brought the new troup many opportunities to perform in a short time. Three weeks ago they were invited to Dancefest at the Rich Forum in Stamford. She called the March of Dimes after seeing their ad. Her goal is to have one performance a month for her students, but they do have other activities, so she will be happy if she can provide 6 to 8 performance opportunities a year for them. They will also create custom performances to a group’s specifications.



All Kinds of Music. Giordano, shown working her team through Saturday night’s number, believes in a variety of music and listens to what the children like: “I use lots of different music from jazz to hip-hop, top forty to blues. I really believe in versatility so I try and change the songs periodically for them to experience different types, and of course, give them something they want to hear so they’re having a good time.”
Photo by WPCNR StageDoorCam


City Center Dance got involved with the Fort Hill Players More Than Music production because Joan Charichak, President of the Players, was a student of Ms. Giordano’s when she was teaching at Dance Cavise. Ms. Giordano asked Joan how she might get more involved in the White Plains community. Ms. Charichak suggested doing a performance with the Fort Hill Players.

“She gave me a compilation of the songs they were going to do from the 40s, 50s and 60s,” Giordano said. “We picked our own songs to go along with the songs they were gong to sing and do acts from. That’s how we came up with it. I had our costumes made. We went from poodle skirts and ribbons in our hair to Capri pants to sunglasses through the eras. They don’t know about that music. They thought it was so much fun.”

Saturday Night Two Numbers for AIDS Victims.

Saturday evening’s DRADance Invitational has the City Center Dancers performing two numbers: “Mostly they just ask for a certain time limit, so whatever you can fit in in that time limit. There will also be a finale. They have a choreographer coming in to do a finale at the end. It’s a great performance opportunity. They’re performing at SUNY Purchase, which is something I could never give to the kids on my own. Being less than a year old, I don’t have the finances to rent out that type of theatre. The kids get to meet other children in the area. They get to talk and exchange stories and learn from each other. It’s not necessary to hold your kids tightly to one dance school. They should be able to diversify and learn. That’s the key to being a good performer is versatility. You’re not going to get that from one teacher forever and forever.”



ALL STAR FACULTY: Ms. Giordano teaches the jazz and hip-hop classes, and employs a staff of eight, bringing in teachers for tap, ballet modern, pilates and yoga. All of the teachers have dance background and professional experience.
Photo by WPCNR StageDoorCam


Parent Involvement and Diversity.

“I think what makes me different is the atmosphere we present here. We have double viewing windows, the studios are never closed. Parents can watch every single class. So parents have plenty of opportunity to watch throughout the year.

“We don’t concentrate on a recital at the end of the year. We do do one. But it’s not the focus of the entire year. The focus is to get the kids to diversify by going out and performing and doing different things by changing the music, by letting them have different routines as the months go by, and not simply concentrate on one routine from September to June. By then the kids are bored, they’re sick of it. They don’t want to do it anymore. They need to have stimulation. And that’s what makes us different we constantly give that stimulation they require.”

Dance for Adults with Adult Schedules in Mind

City Center Dance, Inc. does not require adults to sign up for classes, with adult classes being conducted on a “pay as you go basis.” Adults can buy a 10-class card and go to classes as they fit their schedule, at a discount.

Children are required to sign up for September to June. “The reason that we do that,” Giordano said, “is that I’ve found over the years half a year is not sufficient enough to teach these kids what they can learn, and what they learn between September and June is amazing compared to what they learn between September and January. Most of the kids who dance. They want to stick with it. They’re here for the duration. They love it. It’s part of their life.”

“I would hope their moms do not push it,” Giordano cautioned. “Kids express their interest on their own. They can come and watch a class. I will help them choose a class that’s appropriate for them.”

City Center Dance, Inc. is right on East Post Road next to Frozen Ropes and can be reached at 328-1881.

Ms. Giordano has been dancing since she was six years old. She studied at SUNY Purchase, doing the Young People’s Program there. She started dancing professionally at age 13 with Fernando Bujones. She continued dance training in New York through college. She attended College of Business at Pace University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. City Center Dance Incorporated brings her full cycle. More about City Center Dance can be found on their website at http://www.citycenterdance.com.



TICKETS for DRADANCE Invitational may be purchased at 251-6200, and pressing the button “3” on your touchtone phone. For more on how the benefit will contribute to AIDS research, go to their website http://www.dradance.org
Photo by WPCNR StageDoorCam

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White Plains A-Team — Paulin & Bradley Headline CNA April Meeting.

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WPCNR STREET TALK. From Council of Neighborhood Associations. March 27, 2003: The White Plains New York State Assembly Team of Amy Paulin of the 88th Assembly District and Adam Bradley of the 89th Assembly District will appear at a special April CNA meeting, Thursday, April 3 at 7:45 PM at Education House, 5 Homeside Lane.

The duo will brief the CNA and the public on the Westchester County property tax increase and future fiscal planning at the county, state and local government levels.

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State Senate Passes White Plains 1/2 % Sales Tax. Nick Spano Moves Bradley Bill

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WPCNR ALBAN TRIB & POST. By John F. Bailey. March 26, 2003: The New York State Senate has passed Assemblyman Adam Bradley’s solo bill which renews the White Plains 1/2% sales tax through the year 2005, Adam Bradley reported today to WPCNR.

Mr. Bradley said he had no guarantee when Governor George Pataki would sign the bill, saying, “I’m hopeful he will realize it is in the best interest of the city to sign it swiftly so the city will not have to go the expense of preparing two budgets.”

Bradley praised State Senator Nick Spano for moving the 1/2 percent bill through the Senate Rules Committee, stating, “I credit Nick Spano for assuring a swift passage through the Senate.”

George Gretsas, Executive Officer for the City of White Plains, said the swift passage of the half percent by the senate “was a good sign.”

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