Let’s Face the Music and Dance!

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The Nutcracker Family Benefit Event Chair Rebecca Hessel Cohen and her family with SAB students from the cast.

On Saturday, December 14, 2019 New York City Ballet and The School of American Ballet joined forces, once again, for The Nutcracker Family Benefit – one of New York’s favorite holiday events for families.  Anne J. Citrin, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, Marcella Guarino Hymowitz, Alyssa Tablada, and Olivia Wassenaar served as the Event Chairs.  The benefit began with a performance of the timeless classic, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, followed by a holiday party on the Theater’s Promenade where the Sugarplum Fairy and characters from the production signed autographs and mingled with guests.



More than 675 guests attended including Ethan Hawke, David Schwimmer, Zanna Roberts Rassi, Sadie Sink, Ron and Cynthia Beck, Emily Blavatnik, Monique Cunningham, and Agnes Gund among others.  The event, which raised over $820,000, is a critical source of support for New York City Ballet and its Education and Outreach Programs as well at The School of American Ballet’s Scholarship Fund.


2019 Nutcracker Family Benefit Chairs Marcella Guarino Hymowitz, Anne J. Citrin, Alyssa Tablada, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, and Olivia Wassenaar.
L. to r.: NYCB Corps de Ballet member India Bradley with party guests; NYCB Apprentice Cainan Weber as Candy Cane with party guests.
NYCB Corps de Ballet member Lily-Frances Cosgrove signs autographs for party guests.
SAB students from the cast join the party.
Sadie Sink with SAB students from the cast.
Ethan Hawke and his family.
NYCB Soloist Erica Pereira as Sugarplum Fairy with party guest.
NYCB and SAB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford with Zanna Roberts Rassi.
NYCB Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan, Corps de Ballet member Olivia MacKinnon, and party guests.
Charlotte Nebres as Marie signing autographs for party guests.

Last week at Tyler Rollins Fine Art in Chelsea, Dance/NYC’s Executive Director Alejandra Duque Cifuentes welcomed more than 50 leading artists and patrons of DANCE/NYC to celebrate dance education. Guests included Alton S. Murray (Public Affairs Manager, Con Edison), Linda Murray (Curator, Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts), and Dance/NYC board member, and event co-host, Reshma Patel.


Brandi Coates, Alton S. Murray, and Juny E. François.
Arielle Rosales and Brinda Guha.
Jeanine R. Genauer, Edward A. Brill, and Alejandra Duque Cifuentes.
Camille Y. Turner and Kyle Koemm.
Christopher Pennington, Linda Murray, and Edward A. Brill.
Ilana Kruger, Nancy Steele, and Lenore Champagne Beirne.
Jessie and Joel Slavis.
Mark Mavromatis and Shambhavi Gosh.
Reshma Patel and Renata Levine.
Sabeen Ali and Maneesha Sharma.
Samuel Jih, Rachel Watson-Jih, and Pooja Khanna.
Stephen Wah, Shakira Wallace, and Shannon Zhu.

And way out on the West Coast, a beautiful winter’s spell was cast over Segerstrom Center for the Arts, creating a magical setting for its 46th Candlelight Concert. More than 400 guests gathered on Friday, December 6, contributing more than $2.79 million to support the Center’s array of stellar entertainment, artistic, education and community engagement programs including American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School and the School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities.

Mother and daughter Marta Bhathal and Lisa Bhathal Merage chaired. It was also the first time for many long-time donors and supporters to meet the Center’s new president Casey Reitz and his wife Naomi. They arrived in Orange County just a few days before from their home in New York, where Reitz had been president and CEO of Second Stage Theater.



Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers provided the eponymous concert and The Revolution, Prince’s former band, pounded out songs that kept the dance floor filled through the final hour. As guests left Segerstrom Hall and the 46th annual Candlelight Concert, they were treated to afterhours In-N-Out burgers and soft drinks.


Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.
Steve Martin.

Other noted guests included Marta Bhathal’s husband Raj and Lisa’s husband Richard Merage, Elizabeth Segerstrom, Jennifer and Anton Segerstrom, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, Sally Segerstrom and Toby Andrews, Susan and Steve Perry, Jane Fujishige Yada and son Grayson, Julianne Argyros and daughters Lisa and Stephanie, Jaynine and David Warner, Wendy and Mark Hales, Nancy and Rick Muth with daughters Veronica Vlasik and Stephanie Watts and their husbands, Deborah and Larry Bridges, Valaree Wahler, Sally and Randy Crocket, Angela and Jim Has, Elizabeth An, Sara King and Kamran Pahlavi, Susan and Tim Strader and their family, Dee and Larry Higby, Betty and S.L. Huang, Maureen and Bill Callahan, Courtney and Jason Howard, Rett, Lindsay and Chad Coluccio, and Ling Zhang.


The Revolution, Prince’s former band.
The Revolution, Prince’s former band.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts is an acclaimed arts institution as well as a beautiful multi-disciplinary cultural campus. It is committed to supporting artistic excellence, offering unsurpassed experiences and to engaging the entire community in new and exciting ways through the unique power of live performance and a diverse array of inspiring arts-based education and community engagement programs.


Mark C. Perry (Chairman Board of Directors, Segerstrom Center for the Arts).
L. to r.: Casey Reitz and Elizabeth Segerstrom; Elizabeth An, Carol Perry, and Debra Gunn Downing.
Mark C. Perry (Chairman Board of Directors, Segerstrom Center for the Arts) and Carol Perry, with Naomi Reitz and Casey Reitz (President, Segerstrom Center for the Arts).
Marta Bhathal, Steve Martin, and Raj Bhathal.
L. to r.: Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom; Mae DelaBarre and Sandy Segerstrom.

Photographs by Erin Baiano (Nutcracker Family Benefit); Jeffrey Lee/On The Spot Image (Dance/NYC).

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