Many of my wonderful single male friends are not happy with their social lives. Dating was much easier in their twenties and thirties because desirable women were plentiful at the parties and nightclubs they attended. Continue reading
The major buzz in charity world circles is today’s article by Carol Ross Joynt (see below link). Carol is known to many as the former owner of Nathan’s, the fabulous and late Georgetown restaurant/bar. In her article “Power, Provenance, Means & Discretion = Real Washington Society” she describes “Party Girls” and the new “Social Professionals.”
The author says: “To the Cave Dweller class, who are fundamental Washington society, the list was a mystery or simply the focus of some guffawing. It listed ten young women, who in an earlier era would have been known as “party girls,” but thanks to blogging, networking and the modern trend of bold self-promotion, are a new breed of not really “society” so much as social professionals, or So-Pro’s.
“With a combo of unabashed ambition and entrepreneurial pluck, they’ve made social life into a paycheck, a new business model where Paris Hilton is the prototype. They pitch, they promote, they organize, they show up, they blog about it and they get paid for being, well, themselves.
“Here’s the list: Kate Michael, Angie Goff, Amanda Polk, Katherine Kennedy, Anna Kimsey, Pamela Sorenson, Andrea Rodgers, Courtney Caldwell, Ashley Taylor, and Kelly Ann Collins. I know most but not all of the young women.
“I see them out a lot. A lotta lot. We should all be taking their vitamins. They are, to a one, energetic, enthusiastic, hard-working and generous, and almost always smiling into a camera lens, often in the service of one charity or another.”
I have no idea who belongs in the Social Register, but these women have impressive backgrounds. I have tremendous respect, admiration and genuine affection for all of them. They are well educated, hard working and serious professionals who deserve our praise for assisting so many worthy causes.
Well before the mainstream media caught on, these women recognized the dramatic shift from newsprint to the Internet. Several of their activities are similar to what is done in the lifestyle section of a newspaper. They are also in the forefront of managing all of the different new ways to contact people regarding worthy events.
I hope they are having fun at the various events, and I know one woman who met her future husband at a non-profit function. Do people attend charity functions because they care about the cause or they just want to go to a party? I can not answer that question and it is probably a combination of both motives. What really matters is the bottom line net profit for the charity, and this is where the Social Professionals deserve significant recognition.
I would never describe them as “Party Girls,” and I am not alone. Major institutional charities and Fortune 500 corporations recognize the value of their brand marketing work. Some have made this into successful careers, while others, such as Anna Kimsey and Angie Goff, are volunteers with high level positions in the private sector. Furthermore, many society events would be failures if they limited attendance at major donor non-profit functions to the “Cave Dwellers.” This is a tough time for charities but a bright spot is the tremendous yeoman labor of the new “Social Professionals.”
My latest party proposal was just rejected, but it is a great idea for another organization or a wealthy individual. For over a century a prominent DC institution is the annual White House reception in honor of the Diplomatic Corps. This is the highpoint of the social season for any Ambassador, and the event always includes photos of the attendees with the President and First Lady, as well as numerous cabinet members and Congressional leaders.
In years past the diplomats could leave the White House and walk one block to attend post party receptions at either the Corcoran Gallery of Art (directly across 16th Street) or Decatur House (located on Lafayette Square in front of the White House). Due to budget cutbacks, there is nothing planned for the diplomats after the next party at the end July in 2010.
The staff of the American Red Cross has been cut in half during the past year, and they will not be sponsoring this event. The prominent socialites who had similar gatherings in past years have abandoned the practice.
If someone steps in to fill this void they will have prominent bragging rights. How many people can claim their soirée was attended by over 160 Ambassadors? That was the typical attendance a few years ago.
The rental rate for the magnificent Corcoran Gallery is steep, but Decatur House is a real bargain. I rented the Corcoran for a non-profit in 1988 and the entire cost (facility and operations fee, security and valet parking) came to just $6,000 for the entire evening, and our guests were able to freely roam around the gallery. Today the rental fee is $6000/hour.
On the other hand, Decatur House will allow a non-profit to use their building for 10 hours (three hours for set up and seven hours for a party) for a mere $2000. The cost for an individual would be $5000, and unlike the Corcoran, you can use your own caterer to reduce overhead. You do not have to worry about valet parking because the majority of guests will be on foot from the East Room.
The function has a distinguished history and it will instantly enhance the prestige as well as the fundraising potential of your organization. This post party reception was described by Time magazine in 1949 as the city’s “second most desirable invitation.” According to Time, “Mrs. Truxton Beale, the owner of Decatur House, entertains with a rigid selectivity. Her most heralded function is the white-tie party she hosts after the annual White House diplomatic reception, which takes place, conveniently enough, just across Lafayette Square from her residence.”
A 1938 Life magazine article included 14 photographs and was entitled “Life Goes to a Party with high Washington Society at Mrs. Truxtun Beale’s historic Decatur House. . . she is one of Washington’s topflight hostesses, has been giving her post-Diplomatic Reception party ever since the War. An affair so exclusive that even guest lists do not appear, it has never before been photographed.”
The Decatur House was built in 1818 and its previous residents include Secretary of State Henry Clay and Vice President Martin Van Buren. (Van Buren’s Lafayette Square neighbor was Dolley Madison, and her niece married his son). It was owned by the Beale family from 1872 until 1956. The following excerpt is from “Decatur House and Its Inhabitants” (1954) by Marie Beale. If my event had occurred I would have printed this on the back of the invitation.
“Like a prim dowager, Decatur House serenely overlooks the park that grew up in its front yard, preserving unchanged its original simplicity. During more than 130 years of intimate connection with the main stream of American history Decatur House has been the inner sanctum of Lafayette Square.
“Few houses have witnessed such a panorama of events. Here the dying Commodore Stephen Decatur suffered out his last hours in 1820 after being wounded in a duel. Here foreign ministers represented the power and policies of other nations. Henry Clay struggled here for the Good Neighbor Policy and the Presidency, attaining one but not the other. The ‘gorgeous hussy’ Peggy Eaton (the young wife of the Secretary of War) quarreled here with the wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, and the astute Van Buren moved on to the White House and subsequent defeat.
“In this house lived Secretary of State Edward Livingston who averted the first secession threat by South Carolina. The gaudy tavern owner Gadsby lived here, the unimpeachable Vice President George Dallas, and the benevolent Appleton. Two leaders of the Confederate cause, Generals Cobb and Benjamin, walked these floors as they reached the most momentous decision of their lives, and renounced their country.
“After the interim of the Civil War years, a General and a President, Ulysses S. Grant, came here for friendship and counsel from General Beale, himself one of the architects of the American West, a ‘pioneer in the path of empire.’ Through the tumultuous period that followed, Truxtun Beale preserved the historic role of Decatur House in the life of Washington. Residents of Decatur House have occupied the Presidency and Vice Presidency; they have been Cabinet members, military leaders, Congressmen; they have been foreign diplomats and American envoys to other nations; the roster includes Confederate Statesmen, a jurist and an inn-keeper. By all of them Decatur House was valued, and perhaps beloved.”
THE DOW-JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE since the passage of the stimulus bill. Looks like a vote of “no confidence” to me. Because of my major donor work for charities, practically everyone one on our Finance Committees is in $250K+ bracket. Many of them are Obama supporters, but they are taking steps to lower their tax footprint by such steps as maximizing 401K contributions and cutting back on overtime. Targeting the $250K+ bracket is not a new idea.
We did this with the Luxury Tax. It was a popular idea because it was suppose to only tax the rich. Before the tax North Carolina and Maine enjoyed a large yacht building industry, but within two years of the tax being passed, all those businesses were gone and people were out of good paying jobs. The rich were smart enough to figure out that a $200 plane ticket to the Bahamas to buy their yacht was much cheaper than paying the luxury tax. When you punish the productive, you get less productivity. In Denmark workers are not seeking a pay raises because they lose 70% to taxes. Instead, their preferred bonus is extra vacation time, as the government can’t claim 70% of that.
The Washington Ballet (TWB) is well known among the world’s leading professional ballet companies for its high standards and artistic integrity. TWB includes classical ballet dancers performing a repertory of new work. They present the very best in ballet and international members of the professional troupe include Brianne Bland of Canada, Runqiao Du of China, Sona Kharatian of Armenia, Marcelo Martinez of Paraguay, Maki Onuki of Japan, Alvaro Palau of Colombia, Luis Torres of Puerto Rico, and Laura Urgelles of Cuba.
Mary Day established the Washington School for Ballet in 1944. In 1976 she founded The Washington Ballet as an outlet for the fine dancers turned out by her school. She knew only a small percentage of the hopefuls who came through her school would have the rare combination of gifts which would enable them to dance professionally.
According to an article by Virginia Johnson, a former prima ballerina with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, “Day insisted on decorum. After the formal bow that ended each class, the students lined up to say thank you to her as well.” Mary Day died at the age of 96 in July of 2006.
The ballet’s most recent international tours have included Russia, China, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. TWB was an instrumental part of “Ballet Across America” which brought together nine of the nation’s top ballet companies for six days of ballet at The Kennedy Center. In 2000, TWB became the first American company to perform in Cuba in more than 40 years. The troupe took Cuba’s “Premio Villanueva” award for best foreign production and was later featured in a documentary, “Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight.” The 105-minute film captured touching moments of Webre’s experiences in Cuba.
AT THE WHITE HOUSE
Many first families have been associated with the Washington Ballet. This is especially true of Chelsea Clinton and Caroline Kennedy who are among the alumni of the Washington School of Ballet. Chelsea continued her ballet study until she graduated from high school. She often attended performances of TWB and her father would attend her recitals at GWU’s Lisner Auditorium.
PEOPLE magazine on 12/30/96 reported: “When we presented the President with a freshly printed copy of the Dec. 23 PEOPLE featuring photos of his daughter dancing in the Washington Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, he paused over the pictures and was rendered momentarily speechless as his eyes misted over. Says Clifford: ‘It was as if he were confronted with the evidence that the little girl who had come to the White House in bobby socks and braces was all grown up, transformed into a lovely swan.'”
The ballet world is well represented in the Obama White House. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel trained as a ballet dancer and he must have been very talented. The former Congressman was offered a full scholarship by the world famous Joffrey School of Ballet in New York City.I do not mean to exclude the Republicans because Ronald Reagan, Jr., the son of the late President, danced professionally with the second company of the Joffrey Ballet.
President George W. Bush joined local school children in the East Room of the White House in December of 2005 for a performance of The Washington Ballet. In his remarks, the President praised THEARC program in Anacostia. This 110,000-square-foot complex was opened in 2005 housing a state-of-the-art theater, dance and music studios. It serves the most disadvantaged population in Washington, D.C.
TWB is an integral part of THEARC. The ballet already had an outreach effort, DanceDC, in public elementary schools. DanceDC began in 1999 and it now has an annual budget of $679,000 a year. The ballet offers full scholarships for handpicked youngsters to continue training in a program where they are bused, at the ballet’s expense, to after school classes at THEARC. THEARC offers 30 classes for more than 275 students duplicating The Washington School of Ballet’s curriculum at its main academy.
TWB is now celebrating Artistic Director Septime Webre’s 10th anniversary with a range of work from the contemporary to the classical. Highlights include Webre’s patriotic take on The Nutcracker which pitted George Washington (The Nutcracker) against King George III (The Rat King). The Company is also presenting renowned works by Bournonville, Balanchine, Tharp, Morris, Wheeldon and many others
TWB’s version of Elton John’s Rocketman will have its world premiere on May 12th at the Harman Center. It will be followed by a dinner at the Reynolds Center for Art and Portraiture. This program also features a premiere by Edward Liang and George Balanchine’s riveting Rubies.
SOME PAST PERFORMANCES
“Genius” and “Genius2” were described as ballets for smart people. They featured works by renowned choreographers at the vanguard of contemporary dance. TWB artists last year performed one of Twyla Tharp’s wittiest pieces, the jazz-based “Baker ‘s Dozen.” They then went from classical to the innovative in Mark Morris’ tour de force, “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes”, and Christopher Wheeldon ‘s critically hailed “Morphoses.” Nacho Duato’s hypnotic pas de deux “Cor Perdut” came at the end of this engaging program.
The idea behind 7 x 7 was simple, seven works by seven choreographers, each seven-minutes-long. 7×7 focused on the universal theme of love and its myriad intricacies. As well all know, anything can happen when emotions take hold in the complicated, fickle and sometimes challenging world of relationships.
TWB in February of 2009 had an admirable production of the romantic warhorse, “La Sylphide,” at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. The staging by the Royal Danish Ballet’s Sorella Englund and Thomas Lund captured the essence of this ballet with a light touch. The cast featured petite and playful Elizabeth Gaither as the Sylph and deeply emotional David Hallberg. They acquitted themselves nicely. Guesting for the second time this season, Hallberg offered a richly textured performance as James, who is part cad, part romantic hero in his search for unattainable love.
“Washingtonian” magazine described the performance of “The Four Temperments” this way: “American Ballet Theatre principal David Hallberg joined the troupe for ‘The Four Temperaments,’ Balanchine’s stringent dissection of the medieval principal that the body contains four distinct humors or temperaments. A former student of recently hired school director Kee-Juan Han, Hallberg, with his golden-boy good looks and refined technique, danced a well-modulated Phlegmatic variation, blending naturally into this chamber-sized company with a fiercely democratic streak: there are no soloists or principals in the group, just a troupe of excellent dancers who shift and share roles for the most part equally.”
For three weeks in December TWB featured Tchaikovsky’s cherished Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker. Many of us have school memories of the young dance students playing the awkward angels, the gawky snowflakes, and the bumbling clowns who all aspire to the grown-up grace of the Sugar Plum Fairy or the adventurous imagination of Clara or Marie.
The ballet takes us both backward — often to our own first ballet experiences and also to our own fond family holiday season recollections. “The Nutcracker” has become a milestone in the lives of so many. While it’s a remembrance of things past, it is also a ode to the future.
This staple of the ballet world opened to dismal reviews in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1892. “‘Nutcracker’ can in no event be called a ballet,” one critic opined. “It does not comply with even one of the demands made of a ballet.” Another wrote: ‘The production of such ‘spectacles’ . . . is an insult . . . and may soon easily lead to the ruin of the ballet.'” I always think of those comments when I read reviews today.
Among many other things, tax deductible contributions to TWB have made it possible for over 5,000 DC area students to participate in ballet activities. Some elements of the major donor campaign have included:
The “Beatles Ball” which featured excerpts from the ballet, “Always, No Sometimes”, choreographed by Trey McIntyre and set to a medley of Beatles’ tunes. Over 500 guests attended and $500,000 plus was raised. The sponsor was the Fannie Mae Foundation, but this event was held prior to the government bailout.
Last year the Spring Gala was able to recruit 75 sponsors at $35,000 and two dozen donors of $25,000 and $10,000.
The Washington Ballet’s Jete Society supportS the ballet’s signature education program, DanceDC. All of the cast members from the ballet attend these parties, and it is a fabulous networking opportunity for young people.
“Washingtonian” magazine described the most recent Jete Society event at the French Embassy by saying, “Guests were encouraged not only to dress to impress but also to leave conservative Washington rules behind; the event invitation encouraged them: “Be Wild. Be Sassy. Be Unexpected. Or Stay Home.” Septime Webre introduced the evening’s entertainment by warning, “This is not the ballet!” before a dozen or so scantily clad dancers from the Aaron Jackson Troupe performed an energetic number to Jimmy Jackson’s ‘Fashionista.'”
Amanda McKerrow is the most prestigious alumnus of the Washington School of Ballet. She started with dance lessons in the cafeteria of her elementary school in Rockville, Maryland, became a student of the legendary Mary Day, and retired in 2005 after a 23-year career with the American Ballet Theatre. It was a career which was set ablaze when she made jaws drop throughout the ballet world by winning the gold medal at the Moscow International Ballet Competition in 1981, when she was 17.
UPCOMING STARS — JONATHAN JORDAN
A review of Jonathan Jordan in “Washingtonian” magazine says “It takes more than a perfect quintuple pirouette to make a great ballet dancer. And while Septime Webre lauds 27-year-old Jonathan Jordan’s technique, his intensity as a dramatic artist is what keeps Webre intrigued: ‘I’m very excited to see Jon tackling the part of James, one of the great male romantic roles of the 19th century, in our new production of La Sylphide.’ Jordan, a Silver Spring resident and Phoenix native, credits his teacher Roudolf Kharatian with shaping him as a dancer by introducing him to both martial arts and the great Western philosophers. ‘When he first came to me,’ says Kharatian, a former instructor at the Washington Ballet, ‘I saw this young, energetic man who could not control his energy or his emotion.’ In the studio, they exchange few words, but Jordan—now in his eighth year as a Washington Ballet member—has absorbed Kharatian’s physical and emotional intensity. Two years ago, the relationship deepened when Jordan married Kharatian’s daughter, fellow Washington Ballet dancer Sona Kharatian.
“The Washington Ballet is intimate enough to offer Jordan many opportunities to dance and much variety: ‘I find the joy in anything I get to do, but I definitely feel very close to classical ballet. I think I am a romantic at heart.’ Aside from playing James in La Sylphide, this season Jordan reprises his role—the one originated by Mikhail Baryshnikov—in Mark Morris’s ‘Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes.'”
A TRAGIC LOSS
Mary Saludares of the Washington Ballet Studio Company died on February 20, 2009. She was 20 years old and was struck by a car at 10:07 pm while crossing the street immediately after a performance. Along with other dancers she was on the way to dinner. Mary received the highest Royal Academy of Dance Award, the Solo Seal, in 2006. A native of the Philippines, she at first attended the School of American Ballet in New York. Mary received a full scholarship 18 months ago to the Washington School of Ballet. Because of her obvious talent she was also given a position in TWB’s Studio Company. Mary’s considerable skill and technique at such a young age was recognized in January when she became the first Filipino entry in the Adeline Genee International Ballet Competition. TWB has established a Mary Saludares Memorial Fund.
The Facebook group “We All Love You Mary!!!!” was created by Andy McDandy. It contains 139 photos of the late Mary Saludares with the introduction: “Mary was such a beautiful person, both inside and out. She was so endearing, and full of sunshine and happiness. Mary touched everyone and I cannot think of anything negative to say about her. She was such a sweet person, and a kind soul. May she rest in peace, and in our hearts.”
For each purchase from Gucci’s new collection through January 31, the Italian fashion house is donating 25 percent of retail sales to UNICEF. The 4th annual “Gucci Holiday Campaign to Benefit UNICEF” is featuring award winning musical star Rihanna in full page advertisements. Gucci’s total contribution to the UN Children’s Emergency Fund now exceeds $5 million, including cause marketing and grants. UNICEF programs provide lifesaving nutrition, clean water, and education. They save more young lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world.
Madonna, Lucy Liu, Téa Leoni and Gucci Will Co-Host Next UNICEF Ball By Gregory Hilton —
Lucy Liu is shown at her 40th birthday party on Wednesday night with Téa Leoni. The event was held in conjunction with the UNICEF Ball at the Cipriani 42nd Street Restaurant in New York City. I have never seen a movie with either Lucy Liu or Téa Leoni, but they are definitely my favorite actresses.
Many celebrities attend parties, but these performers have demonstrated an incredible commitment to UNICEF. Since 2003 both of them have spent weeks at a time visiting refugee camps and HIV/AIDS treatment centers in Africa and South Asia. Back home and behind the scenes, it is their personal involvement which has made the difference in securing numerous major donations to the children’s charity.
Over 20 of Lucy Liu’s original oil paintings were recently auctioned off for UNICEF’s benefit. Leoni’s father, Tony Pantaleoni, is the UNICEF Board Chairman and a $25,000 donor to Wednesday night’s event. His daughter out did him by contributing $27,500. Pantaleoni is a partner in the DC based Fulbright & Jaworski law firm. The event raised $1.7 million in ticket sales and corporate contributions, but this represented a 50% decline in proceeds from 2007. All charities are experiencing similar reductions.
Both actresses have appeared at numerous events since 2003 where the United Nations Children’s Fund has raised over $20 million. Similar to Wednesday night, they have also been incredibly generous in making personal donations to UNICEF.
I understand the dismay with our celebrity driven media coverage. It is disappointing when serious subjects are neglected and instead frivolous Hollywood events receive major exposure. On the other hand, I have witnessed this publicity avalanche from a charities point of view. Celebrity involvement in a black tie event always equals a major spike in ticket sales and an increased net profit for a good cause. This will be the subject of my next article.
I hope the careers of Lucy Liu and Téa Leoni have somehow benefitted from their involvement with UNICEF, but I doubt it. I have no doubt UNICEF’s benefit has been enormous. That is why I am so pleased they will be doing it again. Both actresses will join Gucci and Madonna on April 8th as co-hosts of the second “Night to Benefit Raising Malawi and UNICEF.”
Last February this event took place on the North Lawn of the United Nations where a 42,000 square foot tent was erected specifically for the evening. The second event will be dedicated to raising funds and awareness for orphans and children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa where over 11 million of the 48 million orphans have lost one or both parents to AIDS. The first event raised $5.5 million from both ticket sales and a live auction. Gucci is once again completely underwriting this function so 100% of the proceeds will be split equally between the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Madonna’s Raising Malawi Foundation.