WASHINGTON, DC, May 17, 2018 – The Washington Ballet (TWB) held their Annual Spring Gala ‘Raising the Barre’ at DC’s hottest new entertainment venue, The Anthem, on Friday, May 11 and raised $760,000 in support of TWB arts and education programs. WUSA9 Anchor and television personality Lesli Foster emceed the evening.
Highlights included the inaugural presentation of The Lois H. England Philanthropy Award to W. Christopher Smith in honor of his decades-long commitment to community development and visionary leadership, which led to the construction of THEARC in 2005. TWB, a founding partner, continues to provide invaluable dance education and programs at [email protected] to nearly 2,000 DC public school students as well as residents of Wards 7, 8 and beyond.
Amina Vargas spoke about when she started her dance training at THEARC. She is now enrolled in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program in New York and will graduate in 2021. She credits the opportunities THEARC provided and the outstanding teachers who helped shape her career path in dance.
Centenarian Therrell C. Smith received The Mary Day Award in honor of her 70 plus years of excellence in dance education in Washington, DC. Her passion for dance and teaching continues to inspire new generations of dancers, and she served as a vibrant force on the Gala dance floor.
Featured performances by TWB Company and Studio Company, trainees from The Washington School of Ballet (TWSB) Professional Trainee Program, and students from TWSB and [email protected] reflected the repertoire of the 2017.2018 season. Additionally, Julie Ennis, a school parent, shared a testimonial about the positive impact that ballet classes at THEARC have had on her family.
Sara and Chris Lange served as Gala Co-Chairs; The Ambassador of Germany Dr. Peter Wittig and his wife, Huberta von Voss-Wittig served as Honorary Gala Chairs. “We are raising the barre for ballet in our nation’s capital and setting a national example by our commitment to community,” said Sara Lang.
Guests in attendance included Ambassador of Denmark Lars Gert Lose, Ambassador of Armenia Grigor Hovhannissian, Senator Roy Blunt (MO), Congressman Don Beyer (VA), DC 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and Chair of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Kay Kendall.
The Anthem was transformed from a concert venue to a hip and elegant gala hot spot with chartreuse accents and lighting, a striking lily sculpture to welcome guests and floral arrangements of grass and lilies that promise the summer ahead. The event started with a cocktail reception, followed by a sit-down dinner featuring braised short ribs and a delectable dessert buffet.
A special opportunity for young professionals was available this year as a Gala Dance Party ticket that included cocktails and food stations offering a crostini bar, risotto bar and gourmet pizza in the upper gallery followed by dessert, dancing and mingling with guests on the main level after the seated dinner and program.
Occasions Catering provided the dining options, Old Ox Brewery and Total Wine & More provided all beverages. Lighting effects were created by Atmosphere, Inc. and DJ Alkimist played the dance music. Floral arrangements and décor were by Amaryllis.
Media Sponsors: Washingtonian Magazine & Brightest Young Things
Presenting Sponsors of The Washington Ballet Gala: Raising the Barre The Boeing Company, FedEx Corporation, & Jean-Marie and Raul Fernandez
Visit washingtonballet.org for a complete list of Gala sponsors.
ABOUT THE WASHINGTON BALLET: The Washington Ballet (TWB) was founded as The Washington School of Ballet in 1944 and incorporated as a professional company in 1976. Artistic Director Julie Kent’s long-term vision is to elevate the prominence of the company as a world-class ballet company in the nation’s capital by concurrently expanding the size of the company while broadening its repertoire. She has introduced into the repertoire seminal works by George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins, Antony Tudor, and Alexei Ratmansky while embracing the work of emerging choreographers including Justin Peck, Clifton Brown, Gemma Bond, and Ethan Stiefel, among others. Her commitment to the development of both the dancer and the art form is fulfilled through presentation of beloved classic 19th -century ballets and landmark 20th -century works while reaffirming a commitment to commissioned works that will contribute to the evolution of ballet and its relevance in our times. TWB’s threepart mission: ensuring excellence in its professional performance company; growing the next generation of dancers through its school, professional training programs, and Studio Company; and serving the community in which it resides through community engagement programs will continue to propel TWB to a more prominent place within the nation’s capital and beyond.
All photos by Neshan H. Naltchayan: