Volunteer Spotlight : Hal Lamster


Dance Parade, Inc. is a completely volunteer run non-profit organization!
It is the dedication, expertise and rhythm of these brave few that are solely responsible for the success of the event and all the background work that goes on all year long leading up to the parade and festival. Every month, we choose a different volunteer to spotlight.  We ask them a few questions to let you know who they are, where they’ve come from and where they see themselves in the future.

Hal Lamster was searching for a brand new volunteer adventure one day and found a website featuring organisations that were looking for help.   Dance Parade NYC was on the list and Hal responded!   Currently the Acting Chair for The Web Committee,  Lamster is responsible for the general upkeep and maintenance of our main website. (danceparade.org)

Hal’s previous volunteer experience includes various committees of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Advertising Research Foundation.   Now that he is retired, the recipient of his skills and free time is Dance Parade, the New York City Ballet and the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.   We asked Hal a few questions about his background in dance and how he feels about working with the Dance Parade Team and being a part of such a major NYC all inclusive event.  Here’s what he had to say :

What is your favorite style of dance to watch? to participate in?

I love to watch all dance, but especially ballet… and especially the New York City Ballet.  We go to over 20 performances a year of just NYC Ballet.  We also go to see David Parsons, Paul Taylor, and many others at the Joyce, DTW, City Center, etc.

I like to do some ballroom dancing at weddings and bar mitzvahs now.  My knees aren’t what they used to be.  😦

What is your dance background?

I took tap and ballroom dancing lessons at Charlie Lowes studio in what I believe is now where David Letterman’s show is broadcast from.  I did that for just two years but loved it.  We moved from the Bronx to Bayside and the trip in was too long and stopped going.

If you could share the stage with anyone in history famous or not, living or deceased, a trained dancer or not, performing a routine choreographed by yourself…who would it be?

Well if it when I was a child definitely Hal LeRoy the great tap dancer. In my teens Gene Kelly or maybe Leslie Caron (big American In Paris fan).  If it was when I was in my twenties or thirties it would have been Suzanne Farrell (former principal dancer with NYC Ballet) and if it was today I just especially enjoy watching Maria Kowroski (principal dancer with NYC Ballet).

What does the Dance Parade slogan “one parade, many cultures” mean to you?

That dance is universal.  That almost every culture has some form of dance. I love the fact that we display so many diverse dance styles.

“It is an amazing feeling to see things happen when you work as a volunteer.”  ~ Hal Lamster

If you could pick a Grand Marshall for this year’s parade….who would it be?

My first choice would be Benjamin Millipied.  He is a principal dancer with the NYC Ballet.  He is also a famous choreographer having done works for NYC Ballet, ABT, Paris Opera Ballet and many others.  And most interestingly he is engaged to Natalie Portman and would certainly bring excitement, buzz and hopefully Ms. Portman to the event!  Other dance luminaries that I would love to honor include Mikhail Baryshnikov,  Eliot Feld, Christopher Wheeldon, Peter Martins, Paul Taylor, David Parsons, Judith Jamison, … the list is endless.  There are a lot of great people involved in dance.

Part of volunteering has a lot to do with strong leadership skills and major teamwork skills….if you were to pick a person to be chosen for the next Volunteer Spotlight…who would you choose?

Has Greg Miller been one yet?  He is amazing.  But he is really the Volunteer of the last 5 YEARS (and hopefully many more)!

If you could pick another country to hold a Dance Parade and Festival….which would it be?

France.  Other than the language issue (I don’t speak much French) it is a country that is steeped in dance tradition.  And because of the association with their former colonies they would have a lot of world dance tradition to promote as well

Volunteering at a non profit organization can at times be daunting and frustrating with limited personnel and limited funding….what is it that keeps you coming back for more and more?

I like the people that are involved and I like the purpose of Dance Parade. I think the parade and festival are brilliant ideas and I am thrilled to be a part of them.

Describe your most special memory from Dance Parades past?

Last year was my first Parade and I loved having my granddaughter with me to view the festivities.  She had a wonderful time.  I look forward to her coming to the 2011 Parade.

What salesman pitch would you use to attract a new volunteer into the cult that is Dance Parade?

If you are interested in promoting all dance genre’s then Dance Parade is probably the best volunteer activity that you could do.  The people are great, the cause is wonderful.

I have always done some volunteering.  I find that working with these groups is profoundly satisfying.  I feel like I gave something back to the industry I prospered in and now, to organizations that I want to be a part of.  It is an amazing feeling to see things happen when you work as a volunteer.



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