Cold-ish and cloudy

School of American Ballet Founders Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine in the early 1950s and the last photos taken of them (with Peter Martins) by Susan Kuklin.
March 10, 2009. Cold-ish, cloudy and rainy yesterday in New York.

Last night at Lincoln Center, the School of American Ballet celebrated its 75th anniversary at their annual Winter Ball held on the Promenade of the David H. Koch (formerly New York State) Theater. This was a dressy affair – black tie, with the women in long dresses and really pulling out the stops for fashion.

Cocktails were called for 7 followed by dinner at 8. The did something a little differently in setting up the tables on the promenade: creating a platform, about eight inches in height that ran along one side of the promenade for its entire length, so as to give the diners a better view of the performance.

Peter Martins opened the evening. He told us that it was on January 2, 1934 that George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein started the School of American Ballet – their idea being that they would follow the model of the European and Russian ballet companies that created their companies from their schools that trained dancers. Martins said that in the beginning the two men found candidates by going up to them on the street if they looked like good candidates. Whether this is true or not, it was believed last night.
Guests taking their places at table on the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center last night.
In the beginning the SAB had thirty-two students. Today the SAB is the premier ballet academy for classical dance in the United States, with its rehearsal halls, classrooms, and dormitories at Lincoln Center, and has 350 students. Since its founding, the SAB has produced more professional ballet dancers than any other U.S. school. It has also shaped the lives of thousands of young dancers – more than 17,000. Besides the New York City Ballet (founded by Balanchine and Kirstein), the SAB alumni are found in 75 other leading U.S. and international ballet companies.

After Mr. Martins’ remarks, the entire student body, in dance clothes, appeared, beginning with the youngest group (age six and upwards) up to the senior class. They all came out, took their place and the audience stood to applaud. It is a joyous affair to see all this. You know that these children and young people are being/have been trained in the most favorable circumstances for the dance, and that whatever their futures after they have left the school, they are well prepared and armed with discipline, dedication, fortitude and the ability to work hard at whatever goals they may choose. Not all go on to a professional life in dance, but all, or almost all go on to professional lives enhanced by those aforementioned qualities.
The entire student body of the School of American Ballet take their bows before the guests last night.
After the dinner, the students of the SAB took the stage for a performance of “Piece d’Occasion” choreographed by SAB alumnus and New York City Ballet soloist Adam Hendrickson. After the performance, the dancers then reached out to the audience to join them in dancing to the DJ-ing of David Chang. In thirty seconds, the dance floor was mobbed and jumping while the waitstaff was serving the dessert: Warm Brownie Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Founding chairmen were Coco Kopelman and Liz Peek. Chairmen were Robert and Effie Fribourg and Pamela Joyner. Corporate chair was Nicolas Luchsinger of Van Cleef and Arpels who sponsored the evening. Young patron chairs were Chelsea Clinton, Stacey Bendet Eisner, Kate Davidson Hudson. The Encore chairs were Sara Mearns, Katie Peek, Amar Ramasar and Alexis Tobin. The Encore was the after-party (compliments of Zang Toi).
Robert Fribourg, chairman of the evening. Standing behind: Effie Fribourg, Pamela Joyner, Coco Kopelman, and Liz Peek
Glorious Foods delicious menu started with Smoked Salmon Napoleon and Mache with Vinaigrette, followed by Lamb Ragout with Baby Carrots, Turnips, Pearl Onions and Green Peas and Mashed Potatoes. Wines served were Chateau Bonnet Red 2005 and Chateau Coucheroy Blanc 2007.

The evening raised more than $800,000 which was an increase over last year’s results. Proceeds support all aspect of the SAB ballet training.
Zang Toi and Lucia Hwong Gordon Alexandra Lebenthal and Lucia Hwong Gordon
Deb Shriver and Dale Haddon Shelia Stephenson Denise Saul, Donald Tober, and Andrew Saul
Valentin and Yaz Hernandez Gillian Miniter, Coco Kopelman, and Dailey Pattee Lauren Bernstein
Barbara Tober and Jeanne Lawrence Susan Fales-Hill Duane Hampton and John Dobkin
Kevin Krier and Debbie Bancroft
Chelsea Clinton Lucia from the back Patrick McMullan and Blake Lively
Blake Lively and Penn Badgley Deborah Fenker Dancing
Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida The students and the guests dancing

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