The rain didn't stop New Yorkers from supporting their causes
Arriving at The New York Botanical Garden's Conservatory Ball.

Last Thursday night New York the unofficial but widely agreed upon end of the Spring Social season with the annual Conservatory Ball at the New York Botanical Garden. The evening starts about 7:30 and is a formal black-tie affair with a guestlist of more than 700 people. They usually hold cocktails in the garden behind the Enid Haupt Conservatory amidst the flowering trees, the beautiful herb garden and thousands of peonies.

For good reason the Ball is often cited as the “best dressed and most elegant evening” of the season.

No cocktails in the garden this year, however, with Dame Nature endowing us with torrential rains that began at just about seven-thirty. Cars arrived at the tented porte cochere with park staff sweeping away the water as fast as it was falling so that the ladies in their long dresses and matching shoes could keep (fairly) dry. There were cocktails under the entrance tent in front of the Conservatory although guests were still arriving when the dinner was called.

Bill Rondina

It’s always held in a beautifully decorated tent with Bob Hardwick and his orchestra (The Bob Hardwick Sound), and naturally with fabulous floral designs.They raised $1.6 million.

This year’s chairman was Bill Rondina, the very philanthropic designer, president and founder of the Carlisle Collection. The Gala co-chairs were Mrs. Richard Chilton Jr. and Mrs. Marvin Davidson. The Chairmen’s Committee consists of Mrs. Jeremy H. Biggs, Mrs. Coleman P. Burke, Mai Hallingby Harrison, Mrs. John S. Hilson, Mrs. Charles B. Johnson, Mrs. Carlisle Jones, and Mrs. John R. Robinson.

The Principal Benefactors for The Conservatory Ball are The Carlisle Collection and Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Johnson. The good and great Glorious Foods catered this prestigious event Robert Downs Clark designed the Conservatory Tent. Bacardi USA, Inc. is the in-kind liquor sponsor. All proceeds raised support the core mission of the Botanical Garden which includes internationally acclaimed programs in children’s education and botanical research. So was everybody happy despite nature’s bounty of torrential rains? They were dancing to the Bob Hardwicke Sound from the moment they entered the tent.

Jay Gunther and Mary Hilliard
Ashley McDermott
Susan Burke
The Chairman's Committee
Somers Farkas (clockwise from above) with Jonathan, Joanne de Guardiola, and Patrick McMullan
The scene upon arrival
The table centerpieces
The dinner scene
Tim Landi
Jill Spalding
Nathalie Gerschel Kaplan
Summoning the guests to dinner
Ursula Lowerre, Cece and Lee Black, and Paul Lowerre
Clockwise from above: Cynthia Lufkin; Bob Hardwick; The dance floor.
Stephanie Krieger and Brian Stewart
Steven Stolman and Liz Finkle
Robert Rufino and Victoria Lindgren
Jane Gammill and Mary Davidson
Friederike Biggs
Mary Davidson and Maureen Chilton
Mark Gilbertson and Marie-Ann Dreher
Margo Langenberg and John Loring
Mrs. Thomas Wyman, Peggy Mejia, and Nancy Fowler
Conrad de Kwiatkowski, Paul Forsman, Nick Veronis, and Greg Demirjian
John Schumacher, Barbara Schumacher, Jerry Ann Woodson, and Gene Woodson
Audrey Gruss and Jamie Figg
Charlotte Frieze and Sheri Babbio
Gregory Long and Maureen Chilton
Celso Gonzalez-Falla and Sondra Gilman
Molly Wiley, Lee Wiley, and Cosby George
Jackie and Keith Hennessy
Whitney and James Fairchild
Sara Johnson, Ann Johnson, and Robert Kennedy, Jr.
Richard and Maureen Chilton
Carl and Sabrina Forsythe
Pamela and Gifford Miller
Jill Joyce and Mish Tworkowski
Sheila Stephenson
L. to r.: Bill Cunningham shoots Bonnie Sacerdote; Frances Scaife and Tom McCarter.
Noemi Ditzler and Paul Forsman
Karen and John Wood
DPC and Robert Couturier
On the dancefloor
Gillian Miniter and Steve Stolman
Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Valerie Ireland
The Bentley Continental Flying Spur up for auction
A sleek Bronx night

Nearly 200 music lovers and supporters of new artistic work attended the Spring Gala for Miller Theatre of Columbia University last month. Nationally recognized as a cultural center for artistic discovery, Miller Theatre marked the addition of dance to its adventurous programming during a delightful evening atop Rockefeller Center in the legendary Rainbow Room.

A highlight of the Gala included a dance performance with excerpts from Balanchine’s Who Cares featuring Tom Gold, Nikolaj Hübbe, Rachel Rutherford, Abl Stafford and Wendy Whelan of the New York City Ballet. Gala guests danced and mingled to the sounds of Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks.

George Steel, Executive Director of Miller Theatre, recently named one of New York City’s most influential people by New York Magazine, continues to reach a young, active audience with his innovative programming. Under Steel's direction, Miller Theatre is now leading a national rediscovery of classical music. By adding dance to their repertoire, Miller Theatre expands its mission to discover and commission new work.

Miller Theatre at Columbia University is a performing arts producer dedicated to developing and presenting new work from world-class artists. Acclaimed for its innovative programming, Miller Theatre,, provides an intimate exploration of the creative process and a look into the personalities and emerging trends in contemporary classical music, opera, dance, and film.

Anne Bass
Aleba Gartner and Phil Kline
Marilyn Nonken and Jason Eckardt
Jamee Gregory and George Steel
Peter Scaturro, Kathy Scaturro, Sarah Fels, and George Steel
L. to r.: Nikolaj Hübbe and Wendy Whelan in "Who Cares?"; Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks; Rachel Rutherford.

Bringing Balanchine Back, a documentary film by Richard Blanshard, was shown at the Film Society of Lincoln Center two weeks ago.  On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, the birthplace of George Balanchine, the New York City Ballet was invited to participate in the “White Nights Festival.” This was a chance for the Russians to see Balanchine repertory danced by the company he founded and which had not visited there in more than thirty years.  There are dramatic crises and triumphs during rehearsals and performances as the company tests itself before one of the world’s most discerning audiences.

The Monday night gala screening of the film "Bringing Balanchine Back" was a huge success.  There was a supper afterwards hosted by Peter Martins at the practically brand-new Joan Weill Center for Dance.
The film is about the New York City Ballet's historic visit to St. Petersburg, Russia to dance at the Mariinsky Theatre where the company's founder George Balanchine started.  It was co-produced by Earle Mack and Chris Ramsey, the director of external affairs of the New York City Ballet, and directed by Richard Blanshard.  The latter's expert filming of excerpts and the company's rehearsals and performances is exquisite.  The film is narrated by Kevin Kline.  The performances are interspersed with all the backstage dramas and traumas including arriving in St. Petersburg in the morning and having to rehears that morning and afternoon and perform that night.
Darci Kistler, Peter Martins' wife and the company's prima ballerina were at the gala with their eight year old daughter Talicia.

Other guests included: Anne Slater with John Cahill; Brooke Hayward Duchin and Peter Duchin; Justin Rockefeller and his fiancee Indre Vengris; choreographer Pat Burch and her husband film distributor Bill Becker; Cornelia Bregman, who as a teenager in Florida was brought to New York by George Balanchine to study and dance with the New York City Ballet; Princess Marina Pignatelli; Mignon Bellini; "History Boys" star and Olivier Award-winner Richard Griffiths; Donna McKechnie, star of original "A Chorus Line"; producer and casting director Bonnie Timmermann; Tony Award-winning set designer Robin Wagner who did both the original and upcoming revival of "A Chorus Line" and "The Producers" of which the original female star Cady Huffman was at the gala with her husband Bill Nealy.
Ten of the company's star dancers who appeared in the movie and mingled with the guests who in addition to the above included:  Fabian Basabe, Gustaf DeMarchelier, Carlo Von Zeitschel, real estate tycoon Kathy Sloane, producer Paula Heil Fisher, who's newest documentary--about to horse jumper Chris Kappler and his steed Royal Caliber--is said to be stirring and poignant; profile writer Holly Millea, Peter Goldwyn, son of Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. and head of acquisitions at Samuel Goldwyn Productions; IMG Male Models head Chris Forberg,. ThinkFilm's Mark Urman, and Arclight Films' Victor Syrmis and his wife, actress Pamela Shaw; and FT Weekend’s Art Columnist Anthony Haden-Guest.
The screening was so successful and the reaction so strong that they're planning a second screening.

Eric Bogosian and Ed Pressman
Cornelia Bregman and Earle Mack
Cady Huffman
Darci Kistler and Peter Martins with daughter Talicia
Peter Martins and Carmena
Justin Rockefeller and Indre Vengris
Bonnie Timmermann and Bobby Zarem
Richard Griffiths, Ann Slater, John Cahill, Peter Duchin, and Brooke Hayward Duchin
Clockwise from top left: Cornelia Bregman, Princess Martina Pignatelli, Evelyn Sharpe, and Mignon Bellini; Gustaf DeMarchelier, Carlo Von Zeitschel, and Fabian Basabe; Cornelia Bregman with company dancers.
Robin Wagner, Donna McKechnie, and Peter Martins
Chris Ramsey and Earle Mack

Photographs by Jeff Hirsch & ©Patrick McMullan (Botanical Garden); Chance Yeh (Miller).


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/