Carrie Rowlands Johnson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Fragile fingers expertly sift through the tiny treasure chest of designer fragrances, delicately lifting each one to the nose before deliberately deciding on the standard-sized classic Chanel, also sitting on the mirrored vanity. Elegant, posh details such as this are scattered throughout the museum of dance tonight… beautiful young ballerinas lining the entry from the parking lot, graciously distributing umbrellas to ticket holders… fur-coated plush chairs and rugs and silver and mirrored tables in the bar area… white and silver lighted orbs hanging from the ceiling in the ballroom, highlighting dozens of white-clothed round tables bearing three courses of dinner.
As forks pluck at salads, ballet students joyfully dance their way through the room, twirling and flying through the cozy space lovingly created by Michelle Riggi, eclectic Saratoga socialite and generous patron of the city’s dance scene. Michelle is also the lady to thank for tonight’s party, in very large part because she has assembled a great team, headed by Director Laura DiRado. This is THE National Museum of Dance and School of the Arts Gala, on Saturday, August 11, The Museum’s largest fundraiser, and the most formal and prized event of Saratoga’s summer season. This year, the gala also celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Museum’s School of the Arts.
It’s my second turn attending this delightful gala, the first as a guest and tonight as media and accompanied by my blogging partner, Lisa Champagne. Though we aren’t assigned our own table, the Riggis graciously offer us a seat at the front of the ballroom, next to their very own.
I’m dressed in a Nicole Miller white zip-back top and long black skirt, both from Circles in Stuyvesant plaza. Lisa is wearing a rhinestone-clad gown from Macy’s. Long, formal gowns are the standard tonight but some ladies choose lovely, shorter formal styles.
Before the salad plates are cleared, Michelle walks to the microphone and introduces tonight’s honorees, the 2018 Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame inductees. (Ed. Note: See complete profiles of inductees following this post.) – AG
Lucinda Childs a renowned choreographer and director, delivers a speech.
Alfredo Corvino, ballet soloist and master and choreographer is inducted posthumously.
Lisa and I meander through the space snapping photos and chatting with guests…. right up until the well-known Saratoga band, The Accents, enter the scene. An unspoken glance of agreement is barely exchanged as we twirl around the dance floor, living out loud our frivolous girlhood fantasies.
The evening is magical, a delicious combination of young girls’ imaginations fulfilled, culinary treats, simple yet breathtaking entertainment, an electric dance floor and a community gathering to support what it is best known for… Saratoga’s arts scene.
Inductee Profiles (Provided by National Museum of Dance:
Lucinda Childs, born in New York City in 1940, began her career at the Judson Dance Theater in 1963 where she performed and choreographed several dance works. Since forming her own company in 1973, she has created over fifty dances. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979 and since 1981 has choreographed over thirty works for major ballet companies around the world including the Paris Opera Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, and Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project and has worked as a choreographer and director for sixteen opera productions. Childs received the Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement in 2001 and was elevated from the rank of Officer to Commander in France’s Order of Arts and Letters in 2004, and in 2009 received the NEA/NEFA American Masterpiece Award. In 2017, she was awarded the Venice Biennale de la Danse Golden Lion Award and the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Lifetime Achievement Award.
Alfredo Corvino (1916-2005) was born in Uruguay where he studied at the National Academy of Ballet. Corvino toured internationally first as a member of the Jooss Ballet and later as a soloist with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and with Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, among others. He joined the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and subsequently became Ballet Master, where he taught for nearly twenty years. He was on the faculty of The Juilliard School for 42 years and founded and directed his own school in New York City, the Dance Circle. Corvino choreographed for and directed the New Jersey Dance Theater Guild for ten years. He served as panelist to the New York State Council on the Arts and at the time of his passing was Ballet Master to Pina Bausch/Tanztheater Wuppertal. Corvino was the recipient of many awards including the 2002 Martha Hill Award for Leadership in Dance. In May 2003 he had the distinction of receiving an Honorary Doctorate from The Juilliard School and in May 2005 he was awarded the Juilliard Centennial Medal.
GALLERY: NMD Gala – Saturday August 11 – Photos by Cathy Duffy
Additional photos by Lisa Champagne
For more information about the National Museum of Dance visit www.dancemuseum.org or call 518-584-2225.