Retreat, but no surrender

Lineage Dance’s upbeat and joyful routines at the Lineage Live benefit Sunday at the Alex Theatre were offset by the poignant and heart-wrenching stories of cancer survivors.

The dance benefit, which organizers said pulled in more than $10,000, was the creation of Dena Cali, founder of The Foundation for Living Beauty; Lineage Dance creator Hilary Thomas; several musicians who provided live accompaniment for the dances; and six women, called Living Beauties by foundation officials, who told about their battle with cancer.

A reception after the performance featured a silent auction to raise funds for the foundation, which runs a five-day retreat for women with cancer.

The foundation’s mission is to help cancer patients and survivors rejuvenate their mind, body and spirit through nature walks, spa treatments, lifestyle consultations and others, Cali said.

Keiko Thang of Sherman Oaks has seen Lineage Dance perform before, but said she was surprised that the show included a fundraiser and talks by survivors.

Thang’s grandmother died of cancer, and her uncle died of cancer a few months ago, she said.

“This has been so unexpected,” she said of the talks by survivors. “It’s very touching. Telling their stories and expressing their fears, they can heal themselves.”

Diana Brueggemann of Los Angeles, whose sister died last year of ovarian cancer, was also moved by the event and the work of the foundation.

“The foundation provides a tremendous opportunity for people who need to build their self-esteem and feel more beautiful,” she said. “When you have cancer, you don’t feel beautiful.”

The foundation and Lineage Dance produced a smaller fundraiser last year, but Cali said they wanted to add the live musicians and allow the cancer survivors to tell their stories.

“Last year’s event with Lineage was so amazing, we wanted to take it to a larger level,” she said. “We were inspired to create a moving and emotional show. It was another avenue of expression to be able to move the audience through the words about the struggles of these courageous Living Beauties.”

When Susan Bernstein, a Living Beauty, took the stage to talk about her battle with cancer, her husband, Kevin, joined her.

During the reception, Susan Bernstein explained that she was there to help raise money for the foundation so other women can attend the retreat like she did last year.

“I want other women to experience the pampering and being taken care of health-wise, in mind and in body,” she said.

Kevin Bernstein was grateful for the support his wife has received from the foundation.

“It takes a lot of people to get through this,” he said.

Lineage Dance creator Hilary Thomas hopes to make the event an annual series, combining live music with choreography.

“It’s been such a thrill to put this together,” she said. “It’s a dream come true for us.”

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