School of American Ballet Holds Winter Gala at Lincoln Center

The School of American Ballet (SAB) held its annual Winter Ball at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center on March 12, 2018 with cocktails beginning at 7 PM. SAB, the official yet independent training academy of New York City Ballet, was established in 1934 by legendary choreographer George Balanchine and philanthropist Lincoln Kirstein. Located at Lincoln Center, SAB trains almost 1,000 youth ages 6 to 19 annually (with more than 3,000 auditioning per year), and provides $2 million in financial aid to 46% of the student body.

Vanessa Lawrence in Oscar and Jill Kargman in Chanel

Students come from all over the country to attend this preeminent institution with over 40% self-identified as students of color. The evenings chairs were Renata Garcia, Joyce Giuffra and Elizabeth Gosnell Miller with honorary chair Julia Koch a no-show. The glamorous ball which has taken place for the past 13 years is a celebration of the students and faculty at SAB. However, there was a noticeable component missing from this electric evening and that was the presence of former Artistic Director Peter Martins.

Coco and Arie Kopelman with Alexis Mintz

Martins was forced to retire after 30-years of service due to questionable behavior and a replacement for this superstar genius will be difficult ,if not impossible, to find. The charisma and expertise of Martins who was a choreographer, mentor and administrator as well as being one of the most respected Balanchine dancers of his generation, gave SAB an undeniable gravitas. As SAB searches for a new director the school remains in limbo.

Vanessa Lawrence, Jill Kargman, Amanda Brotman and Caroline Lagerfelt

This evening contained 350 prominent guests who came to pay tribute to the students including: Indre Rockefeller, Geoffrey Bradfield, Michael and Tara Rockefeller, Margo Langenberg, Jean and Martin Shafiroff, Jennifer Creel, Jill and Harry Kargman, the Kopelman family, Amanda Brotman, and many others.

Jean Shafiroff

Some of my favorite fashion choices were Indre Rockefeller in a black-and-white Herrera, Jean Shafiroff in a floral Zac Posen, and Jill Kargman in an off-white Chanel with a Marc Jacobs skirt flowing underneath.

Chairman of Board Barbara Vogelstein

Another beautifully dressed attendee was Master of Ceremonies and CBS anchor, Tanya Rivero Warren, who wore a silver sequined gown. She said as a former SAB student herself she remembers her Russian dance teacher telling the girls, “you must always be a ballerina even on the street because your fans expect a ballerina.”

Arieh Bates and Heidi Magnussen

Warren said this was her teacher’s admonition to students to put their best foot forward in whatever they were doing. Rivero also urged attendees to donate to the Toe Shoe Fund since professional dancers run through one pair every night which cost $100 each-proving an exorbitant cost for underpaid dancers.

Front: Executive Director Carrie Hinrichs; Back left to right: Renna Taher, Amanda Brotman, Joyce Giuffra, Renata Garcia, Stephanie Sharp, Kylie Van Hoek and Elisabeth Miller

Newly appointed Executive Director Carrie Hinrichs took to the stage to thank Peter Martins for his incredible artistic achievements over the past 30 years while noting that 98% of the dancers from New York City Ballet are former SAB alumni. Hinrichs asked the alumni to stand up and excitedly announced that more than $900,000 had been raised.

Choreographer Alec Knight and Alexa Maxwel

The highlight of this evening, besides from the pink and purple hued room with tutus hanging from the ceiling, was the young dancers performance which was choreographed by 21-year-old Australian Alec Knight.

The dancers

Knight praised the dancers whom he referred to as “unsung heroes” for leaving their homes at the age of 17 to come dance. He also thanked Peter Martins for believing in him even though he was on the other side of the world.

Michael and Tara Rockefeller

Knight who later told me that he missed Martins presence said ultimately what made SAB special was the dancers. He called Peter his “biggest inspiration” and said Martins meant a lot to him.

Ashley Bouder

Principal dancer, Ashley Bouder, reiterated this sentiment by acknowledging that without Peter something tangible was missing; yet she remained confident that new opportunities and visions would be available for the Company.

Harry Kargman and Will Kopelman

Indeed the performance of the students was riveting as young girls and boys danced their hearts out with the expertise of veterans. There was a modern element to their dance routines as the intrepid dancers moved with a notable alacrity to the jazzy music-even incorporating some vogue-like movements.

Margo Langenberg and Geoffrey Bradfield

As the evening concluded, dancers headed to the dance floor to cheer each other and join hands in a symbol of unity and triumph that was infectious. Soon after the crowd danced to the tunes of Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars and Madonna as a double dessert of sorbet and chocolate cake was served-a savory conclusion to a Monday night evening.

– Lieba Nesis

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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