Sesame Street Icon "Maria" Sonia Manzano, Latina Pop Singer Carmelina Vargas and Dancer Cecilia Saia-Gluck Visit Children's Aid

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Celebrity Auction Raises Money for P.S. 163 on the Upper West Side

Emily Crossan, The Children’s Aid Society, (w) 917-286-1548, (c) 201-344-5742

NEW YORK  JUNE 24, 2008 - In celebration of their love for their community, children and New York City, three special local Latinas will be making an appearance at The Children’s Aid Society today at 10 a.m. Children’s Aid’s Frederick Douglass Center, located at 885 Columbus Avenue at 104th Street, will host Sonia Manzano, Carmelina Vargas and Cecilia Saia-Gluck as they meet and entertain children from P.S. 163 and The Children’s Aid Society’s pre-k class.

The visit was a coveted prize at an auction held to raise funds for P.S. 163. Emmy-award-winning actress Sonia Manzano, best known for her role as “Maria” on Sesame Street, will conduct a special reading for the children. Ms. Manzano will be joined by rising songwriter and singer Carmelina Vargas, best known for her online worldwide debut single “Mueve Las Caderas” from her forthcoming album, “Generation Ñ.” The morning’s visit will be rounded out by a folkloric dance performance by acclaimed dancer Cecilia Saia-Gluck, who, with her partner Angel Garcia Clemente, will perform and teach the children a few of their award-winning steps. Ms. Manzano will also raffle off three signed copies of her children’s books.

“I have always loved children. Encouraging them to read, learn and reaching them through entertainment has been my life’s mission. And that I am able to do that and also raise money for my local public school is a special treat,” said Sonia Manzano.

Ms. Manzano has been a presence on Public Television since the 1970s. Raised in the South Bronx, she is an Emmy Award-winning writer for Sesame Street, in addition to her role as Maria. Ms. Manzano's first picture book No Dogs Allowed! was published in April 2004 and her second book, A Box Full Of Kittens, was published June 2007. She currently is working on a memoir.

On Tuesday, Carmelina Vargas will sing her acclaimed song “Mueve Las Caderas” and will also serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. “Since I was a little girl all I wanted to do was sing and dance. Music touches everything I do," said Vargas. Carmelina’s music style is geared toward a whole new generation – Generation Ñ, a digitally savvy and acculturated group that enjoys the American culture and also relishes its Hispanic heritage.

Cecilia Saia-Gluck, a dancer and choreographer, is a graduate of Escuela Nacional de Danzas in classical, modern, and native folkdance. She has appeared on Broadway and with varied groups and orchestras, on TV, and in numerous venues both in the US and abroad, receiving rave reviews. Cecilia has also taught extensively.

Ms. Saia-Gluck will be joined by her dance partner, Angel Garcia Clemente, a dancer, choreographer, and actor, who has worked and studied with many tango greats. Garcia Clemente has been on TV and in movies, and has danced around the world, including at some of NYs most illustrious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, and Lincoln Center. Angel boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of Latin American folkloric repertoire.

Said Ms. Saia-Gluck, “Dancing is an act of passion and sharing, and what better audience with which to share one’s passion than children. Latin dance is a window into our shared heritage. We value this opportunity to inspire them and to share our deep pride in our culture."

Linda Rodriguez, Director of Early Childhood Education and Head Start Programs, The Children’s Aid Society, believes that while the money raised will help our local public school in times of austere budget cuts, it’s the time and effort that Sonia Manzano, Carmelina Vargas, Cecilia Saia-Gluck and Angel Garcia Clemente are spending that means so much to the children.