Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Yorkers moving forward

Park Avenue lights. 10:50 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013. Winter in New York. Cold, but not very. Snow passing by to the north and west, some wet; quiet streets.

Quiet but New Yorkers moving forward. At three yesterday afternoon, in the Central Park West apartment of Sarah Frank, a group of supporters of a performance by the New York Theatre Ballet’s upcoming first-time fund-raiser, “Bark! In The Park” gathered to hear a preview of a new children’s ballet with story and music composed by Karen LeFrak.

The ballet will be performed at the benefit on February 5th at El Museo Del Barrio on Fifth Avenue and 105th Street. The (late afternoon/early evening) is a family friendly benefit. The performance will take place at 5 p.m., followed by a kid-friendly buffet, supper, fun and games, dance lessons. Co-chairs are those mothers of invention, Muffie Potter Aston, Sarah Frank, Yaz Hernandez, Cynthia Lufkin, Gillian Miniter, Nancy Missett, Hilary Geary Ross and Kathy Thomas.

Our hostess
Sarah Frank, is on the Board of New York Ballet Theatre which was founded by its artistic director Diana Byer in 1978. It was the late Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets who suggested they do something special to interest children in ballet, like cut some of the classics down to one act and perform for children.

Mr. Henson’s idea provided great impetus. Today, the New York Theatre Ballet Company is a leader in developing new interest in ballet by the very young generation in New York City public schools. Sarah Frank said of one young principal dancer today who was first introduced to ballet when he was seven years old by a performance of the Ballet Theatre Company.
Karen LeFrak is very well known in social and philanthropic circles where she is very active, as the wife real estate magnate Richard LeFrak, as a writer of children’s books (having to do with horses and with dogs); and as a breeder of Blue Ribbon championship Standard Poodles. Less well known is her lifelong commitment to the piano and musical composition.

In May 2008, her original ballet score “Cake” on the life of Marie-Antoinette had its premiere with the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. It was also performed  at Guild Hall in East Hampton and at the Long Island Mozart Chamber Music Festival. Two years later in 2010, her second ballet Pavlovsk premiered with the ABT2 in New York and continues to tour across America and Europe. In April of last year  the ABT  performed another composition of LeFrak’s for choreographer Jiri Bubenicek, Gentle Memories. The piece had its Russian premiere that September with prima ballerina Yekaterina Kondaurova.
Sketch of Chase's costumes for the Parade of Dogs.
Sketch of Chase's costumes for Park People.
Among the guests: Duane Hampton, Leelee Brown, Pamela Fiori, Daisy Soros, Somers Farkas, Jamee Gregory, CeCe Cord, Kathleen Hearst, Hilary Geary Ross, Marjorie Reed Gordon, Sharon Handler, Michele Gerber Klein, Amy Fine Collins, Helen Lee Schifter, Kamie Lightburn, Noreen Buckfire, Melissa Berkelhammer, Helen O’Hagan and the Company’s founder Diana Byer.

Karen introduced pianist Michael Scales (also of the New York Theatre Ballet), and Chase Brock, who created the choreography, and then she presented an outline of the story, accompanied by Michael Scales performing LeFrak’s composition.
Sarah Frank introduces Ballet company's pianist Michael Scales.
Chase Brock, Sarah Frank, and Karen LeFrak. Michele Gerber Klein.
Kathleen Hearst, Hilary Geary Ross, and Cece Cord.
Amy Fine Collins, Daisy Soros, and Helen Lee Schifter.
Kamie Lightburn and Diana Byer, founder of the New York Theatre Ballet Company. Jamee Gregory.
Melissa Berkelhammer, Pamela Fiori, and Leelee Brown.
Duane Hampton. Sarah Frank.
Noreen Buckfire and Sharon Handler.
The adorable Mr. Pup, age 13.
Other mothers of invention. Yesterday afternoon Deborah Norville sent me an announcement that on Thursday (January 17th) she’ll debut her Deborah Norville Craft Kits on HSN the shopping channel. These are knit and crochet kits and you can buy Deborah Norville anti-pill yarn to work with.

My mother belonged to a knitting club when I was a little kid. Sometimes she’d take me along if she couldn’t find a sitter. The women would all sit around and knit and gab. I have no memory of what they talked about (I probably wasn’t listening) but I liked going because after an hour or so, the hostess would put out a spread of cakes, cupcakes, ice cream and brownies on the dining room table and I got to help myself. While my mother and her friends were oohing-and-ahhing over the confections and talking about watching their calories, I got to stuff myself. This what came to mind when I got Deborah’s announcement.
Deborah on camera in one of her knitted scarves and a little one's pinafore.
I also had an aunt who crocheted all the time. She’d sit and converse, or watch television, and crochet for hours on end. All kinds of items came from her deft and clever fingers including borders for pillowcases, tablecloths, jackets. I’m reminded that what seems old-fashioned is now new again. It’s useful in many ways including evoking the creativity and economy of these crafts. Deborah’s announcement featured some of her works – Knit and Crochet Afghans, Tote Bags, Hat and Mittens, Crochet Cowl and mittens.

More announcements in the mail. Shirley Lord Rosenthal sent me an announcement of her great friend Peter Heywood’s exhibition at the Plaza Boutique. Peter, an Englishman from Yorkshire (and his olive orchard in Sicily), paints beautifully compelling images of New York reflecting on itself – such as this Big Apple Plaza. If you look carefully you’ll see the layers of architecture in the one image – the Apple Cube, the Plaza Hotel, and the former General Motors Building that sits behind the Cube and across the way from the Plaza.
And before you forget. Last Wednesday, the Public Theater began performances for 2013 Under the Radar Festival. This is the 9th year that the acclaimed downtown festival is committed to tracking new theatre from across the US and around the world. It is running through January 20th at the Public Theater at Astor Place.

Excluding  Life and Times, all single tickets are only $20 (Member tickets, $15). This is the first time the festival has taken place entirely at the Public Theater’s home on Lafayette Street where there is a late night Festival Lounge in the theater’s lobby and Shiva Theater for artists and audiences to gather after performances. The Library at The Public is also open for food and drink beginning at 5:30 p.m., and Joe’s Pub will continue to offer some of the best music in the city.

For a full listing of generous support for Under The Radar Festival productions, visit
Jo Bonney and Eric Bogosian. Linda Emond and Matte Osian.
Public Theater Executive Director Patrick Willingham, UTR Associate Artistic Producer Meiyin Wang, UTR Director Mark Russell, Jennifer Goodale, and Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis.
Marin Ireland. Denis O'Hare. Hamish Linklater.
Colman Domingo and Sharon Washington. Josh Hamilton and Sam Rockwell.
Alex Timbers. Arian Moayed. Olympia Dukakis.

Contact DPC here.