Thursday, February 5, 2009

Washington Social Diary

The Stevenses and the Bradleys arrive at the 50th Anniversary Gala dinner for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
By Carol Joynt

It was intermission at the 50th Anniversary Gala for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As two friends in black tie passed each other on the Kennedy Center red carpet one said to the other, “Well, is change keeping you busy?” The other answered brightly, “Yes, exhaustingly and beautifully so.”

Maybe the “exhaustingly” part is why the Tuesday night celebration had a lighter than expected turn out from the Obama inner circle. For example, the President’s box was occupied by the Vice President’s wife, Jill Biden, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, but both departed after the performance. White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Social Secretary Desiree Rogers both cancelled in the afternoon. Deputy Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen, according to a source, “just could not get there.”
Announcing a week of shows at the Kennedy Center marking the 50th anniversary of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Fifth years of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.
Inside the "members only" Circles lounge, where they have plenty of champagne and M&M's.
SRO at the Alvin Ailey 50th anniversary in the Kennedy Center Opera House.
An usher watches the performance on a TV monitor. Brad and Debbie Dockser.
During intermission: Peter and Sydney McKelvey with Michael and Mariella Trager.
The Opera House lobby during the first intermission.
There was disappointment but not surprise among veterans of Washington’s hectic pace, especially in the first 100 days of a new Administration, not to forget the high wire act of getting a stimulus bill through Congress, and unexpected Cabinet vacancies. The workload is intense, and the hours seemingly too few, to be able to pack it all in. “This is about just getting adjusted, and thinking they can accept a night out, and then finding work intercedes,” said the source. The push pull of work and social life are particularly up against each other on weeknights when Congress is in session.

Even if there weren’t a lot of actual Obama staff at the gala, they were there in spirit, represented by plenty of Obama friends and supporters. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s wife, Michelle, mother of two plus a two month old, talked about what a “special” and “exciting” time it is in Washington. What makes residents particularly encouraged is that Fenty and President Barack Obama appear to have a solid friendship. That could help in the city’s long march toward statehood.
At the dinner: ready for the guests to arrive.
The Kennedy Center's Roof Terrace before the Alvin Ailey 50th Anniversary gala dinner dance.
The table setting at the Alvin Ailey dinner.
There was some Administration business that went down at the dinner that followed the three-ballet performance. Huddled together, two bona fide insiders talked about a critical job. Cheryl Mills, the New York University senior vice president and former Clinton White House counsel, told communications executive Hilary Rosen that she would likely become Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff. When that news was relayed to my tablemates – a judge, a federal lawyer and a Democratic insider – one asked, “So, Cheryl wants to get back on the Clinton ride?” “It’s amnesia,” said another.

Nearby, two well connected cousins gave each other hugs. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend caught up with Sydney Lawford McKelvey. Did they talk about the political travails of their other cousin, Caroline Kennedy? No, at least not in front of me. Instead they giggled about Townsend’s long black dress, which she said was more glittery than what she usually wears to these sorts of events.
Katherine and David Bradley. Liz and George Stevens.
Jim Collins and Marilyn Beale. Washington's other "first couple": Michelle and Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Michelle Ellison, Riley Temple, Superior Court Judge Thomas Motley, and Carolyn Yancey.
Angela Roberts of "Free Spirit" ...
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend with her cousin, Sydney Lawford McKelvey. Kay Kendall.
Septime Webre. Bill Plante and Robyn Smith.
Carmen Walker with Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. Daanen and Shaunda Strachan.
Marc and Jacqueline Leland. Michael and Jocelyn Rapelyea.
Jay Stewart, Jennifer Streaks, Khadeja Salley and James Woodyard. Michael Kahn.
Dancing is what was on the minds of most of the 480 people seated at the colorful round tables of ten that packed the Kennedy Center’s Roof Terrace.

Not only the wonderful dancing they’d watched earlier downstairs in the Opera House, but their own dancing to the band “Free Spirit.” Most Washington parties fold when the clock strikes 11. At the Alvin Ailey gala, folks were just hitting their groove.
Donell Peterman and Myra Ingram-Allen. Andrea Thimm and Michael Trager.
Scott Mackoul, Lyndon K. Boozer, and Kyle Samperton
Cheryl Mills and Hillary Rosen. Dan Glickman and David Sutphen.
Scott Mackoul and Riley Temple. Aubrey Sarvis and Frederica Valanos.
Dinner in full swing.
Here are the names of just some of them: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown of Maryland, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, Rep. Maurice and Ilene Hinchey of New York, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, David and Katherine Bradley, Gina Adams, Herb and Simin Allison, Debbie Dingell, A. Huda Farouki, Thelma Duggin, Brad and Debbie Dockser, Dan Glickman, Wayne Berman, Judith Jamison, Michael Kahn and Polly Kraft, Jim Kolbe, Nicholas Rohatyn, Roger and Vicki Sant, Cecelia Rouse, Carol Maillard, Glorya Kaufman, Carolyn Baker, Michael and Mariella Trager, Ann Stock, Liz and George Stevens, Jr., Carolyn Yancey, Sissy Yates, Riley Temple, Aubrey Sarvis, Frederica Valanos, Septime Webre, Jarvis and Stacey Stewart, Eileen Shields, Wendy Block, John Donovan, Joyce Brayboy, Arturo and Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg, Bradley Holmes and Loretta Polk, Ronni Favors, Bruce Gordon, Tawana Tibbs, Ron and Beth Dozoretz, Henry McGee, Lyndon K. Boozer.

And from the Alvin Ailey company of dancers: Guillermo Asca, Olivia Bowman, Hope Boykin, Clifton Brown, Anthony Burrell, Courtney Corbin, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Khilea Douglass, Vernard Gilmore, Chris Jackson, Willy Laury, Yannick Lebrun, Roxanne Lyst, Amos Machanic, Rachel McLaren, Aisha Mitchell, Akua Parker, Renee Robinson, Matthew Rushing, Yusha Sorzano, Constance Stamatiou, Tina Williams, Marcus Willis.
Photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol Joynt is the host of The Q&A Cafe, a talk show at Nathans Restaurant in Washington, D.C.