Inaugural Vildwerk Gala

“Here we are at the Inaugural vildwerk Gala.”, said Chiara Gorodesky (vildwerk. Founder), on May 1st at The Bowery Hotel in New York City. “We are all here, leaders in our own fields, because we know there’s a crisis happening in the world, and we need to do something about it. I’m extremely lucky because I work in both the world of conservation and the world of dance. I know firsthand there is no voice in performing arts that represents the messages of conservation organizations. They are out there in the field, in the dirt, working for us, to protect us every single day. There are so many stories to be told. The arts inspire the hearts of people, and we need to tell these stories of what’s happening in the world. We will collaborate with local organizations, and in 2024 with our first staged season, we will give them a voice.”

Christopher Wheeldon took the stage and shared, “I’m extremely honored to be the chairman of this evening. I love that vildwerk. aspires to be the first organization to invite choreographers and composers to hold hand-in-hand with conservationists and environmentalists. What can be better than making art with the power of making real change? I am very excited to announce I will be one of the first choreographers to present new work with vildwerk. at the 2024 season.”

Chris Wheeldon and Chiara Gorodesky

Photo Credit: PMC

Standing next to a nearly extinct ploughshare tortoise, joining the Gala by video, was Turtle Conservancy Founder, Eric Goode. He introduced the first piece created for vildwerk., a world premiere by choreographer Joshua Beamish, titled Golden Tortoise, performed by Mara Galeazzi, with music by Felipe Perez Santiago (in audience).

The evening also featured performances by cellists of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Dorothea and Rafael Figueroa. After a video message from David K. Israel, they performed his Windansea, a classical piece by Jean-Baptiste Barriere, and then Dying Swan by Charles-Camille Saint-Saens, joined on the piano by Amber Salladin. Amber, Co-Artistic Director of Inspire – Chorus for Unity, also conducted Grow Little Tree, sung by 7 young vocal artists, accompanied by 9-year-old Anton Figueroa at the keyboard and Cassandra Longville, dancing a piece choreographed by former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater star, Briana Reed. Speakers included Professor Russell Mittermeier (Chief Conservation Officer of Re:Wild), Professor James Juvik (Senior Scientist at Turtle Conservancy), and Jorge Islas Lopez (Consul General of Mexico in New York).

Cassandra Longville and Inspire Chorus for Unity

Photo Credit: PMC

Host Sergey Gordeev closed the evening by asking, ‘What can YOU do for our planet?” He shared, “Our home is on fire. Some people aren’t home and don’t notice their house is on fire. They are so busy living their lives, they don’t know or care that our house is on fire. Chiara Gorodesky and everyone in this room are here to shout from the rafters that this house is on fire, inhabitants are in trouble, and it needs to be saved. We will do this through the powerful voice of performing arts.” 

Guests included Jacqulyn Buglisi, Kurt Froman, Michèle Gerber Klein, Terri Gold, Jeff and Danielle Hirsch, Jana Jaffe, Liane Pei, Debra Pickrel, and Carlos dos Santos. 

Debra Pickrel, Michele Gerber Klein and Liane Pei

Photo Credit: Sylvain Gaboury/PMC

vildwerk is the world’s first non-profit organization solely dedicated to raising global environmental conservation awareness through dance and the performing arts. This community of artists, conservationists, writers, thought leaders, and philanthropists wants to help make this planet a sustainable home for everyone. For more information, visit