I don’t think there are enough adjectives to describe the magical Joffrey Gala this past Friday night at Union Station. This event has typically been at the Hilton for the last 100 years or so (just kidding but it feels like it) so I was thrilled to experience a new location for this always exciting event and Union Station fit the bill to perfection! Event co-chairs Yolanda and Jason Tyler and Honorary Chairs Anne and Burt Kaplan raised almost $1.2 million to support our world-class ballet company and their many outreach programs. Almost 1,000 guests attended the black tie gala that began with a stellar performance by The Joffrey Ballet and the students from The Academy of Dance at the Auditorium Theatre. There were welcoming remarks by Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway and the chairs. President of the Board Fred Eychaner presented Miles White (the chairman and CEO of Abbott) with the Arpino Angel Award for their decade long support of the Joffrey and then there was a wonderful video produced by Sasha Fornari that captivated the audience. It was edgy and modern yet presented the dancers in a real and charming way. It showed them as ordinary people with extraordinary talents and made you want to know each and every one of them better. Ashley introduced 13-year-old Houston Thomas, who was the winner of the Youth American Grand Prix competition. With the expert training and under the watchful eye of Pierre Lockett, Houston is blossoming as an Academy dancer. He opened the show and wowed the audience with his performance of “Carnival in Venice.” We are so lucky to have him! And now let’s talk about our Joffrey Ballet! The evening opened with “Confetti,” danced flawlessly and choreographed by Gerald Arpino. Next up was “Paquita,” a grand pas de deux performed to perfection by Christine Rocas and Jonathan Dummar with the Academy of Dance. “Inferno,” choreographed by Joffrey dancer Derrick Agnoletti, was next on the bill and was performed by talented dancers from the Exelon Strobel Step-Up Program. And then – drum roll please! – one of my favorites: an excerpt from “Othello” (choreographed by Lar Lubovitch) performed by none other than perpetual crowd pleasers April Daley and Fabrice Calmels. The dashing new Cuban dancer, Miguel Blanco, performed with the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Jaiani in a pas de deux from “Le Corsaire” choreographed by Marius Petipa. The closing number, which will also be a part of the new Spring program beginning tomorrow, was “Crossed” choreographed by the uber talented Jessica Lang. It was a haunting piece with music by Mozart, Handel and Des Pres— nothing like you’ve ever seen on stage before. I don’t want to spoil it for you so that’s all I’m going to say! After the performance, charming trolleys laden with champagne were on hand to transport the guests to Union Station in grand style. I’ve been to several events at Union Station but have never seen it transformed as it was on this evening. The décor by Heffernan Morgan created an experience that Chuck said reminded him of the grand dining hall of Hogwart’s. I agree—pure magic! There were faux white walls in varying shapes separating the cocktail space from the dining space and massive lighting fixtures that looked like they were found on Mars. The whole room had row after row of straight tables adorned with zillions of twinkling candles. A large screen at the end of the room had black and white scenes of trains coming and going with a real train whistle that called guests to dinner. During the course of the evening, archival footage of past performances was shown. It was a surreal moment and I had to stop and pinch myself! Layer this with all of the ladies in their elegant finery and the Gentlemen of Leisure playing hot dance music and well, you get the picture. George Jewell catered this event brilliantly…I can’t even begin to figure out how he could serve 1,000 people and have the food be so delicious and hot! The dinner began with white gazpacho followed by lobster remoulade. The braised short ribs were served with mashed truffle potatoes, carrots and green beans (haricot vert) and mushroom charlotte with currant sauce. And then – get this – George had the courage to serve 1,000 people a banana split!!! How in the world did he keep it from melting?! OMG—amazing from beginning to end! The staff, including Julia Jankowski, Jen Hardin and Rhonda Brown, looked fab too and were instrumental in making this evening such a success. The Women’s Board stepped up and even served as hostesses and trolley captains so everything would run smoothly. And, as if this weren’t enough, the evening wasn’t over yet! The Auxiliary Board hosted their first Spring After-Party called “The Midnight Express” at the W Chicago from 10:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m….although I can personally tell you, this party went on long after the designated end time! Everyone came and really let their hair down with relief and happiness over the success of the evening. There was a silent auction, more “fun” food and dancing, dancing, DANCING! I hope my feet heal by then. For tickets and more info, call 800-982-2787 or visit www.Joffrey.org. (Click here for more fabulous event photos by Caitlin Saville and Steve Starr...and view Sasha Fornari's video below!)
VYNE Magazine recently hosted “Style Wars 2010” at the Hotel Sax. It was a sell-out crowd of almost 300 fashionistas, models, photographers, designers, stylists, makeup artists, hairdressers, industry insiders and all of their friends who turned out to see seven local stylists compete for the honor of being named “Top Chicago Stylist.” Jeffrey Chiakas, Christina Demos, Allison Guglielmo, Ruben Lopez, Mena Ighodaro, Aliana Elizabeth and CT Hedden competed in five different categories. The first task was simply to show the models in your own style. The second competition required stylists to use only items within the black and white color scheme and the next hurdle gave the winner the chance to join VYNE on their next editorial issue. They were asked to create a look that depicted homelessness in Chicago. For the “Rewind” contest, the stylists were ask to rework the published piece “Make Love Not War” by famed photographer Steven Meisel and for the final “war,” they were challenged to create looks which fused music and the color Crimson in honor of their sponsor, Crimson Lounge and Hotel Sax. Judges on hand included Billy Dec (whose Underground hosted the after party), Gordon Wood (Chanel), Rino Burdi (Burdi) and Nancy Good (Artists by Timothy Priano) and moi. VYNE’s Executive Creative Director Milan-David Richardson welcomed guests and singer Nikki Lynette and her backup artists and they performed their MTV single, “Into the Light.” When winner Christina Demos was announced, the crowd went wild! It was a fun night with lots of creative people and the event benefitted the Chicago Fashion Foundation. VYNE Magazine also donates 100 percent of its subscription fees to charity. Their latest issue had a wonderful article entitled “The Non-Conformists.” Featured in the article were Kid Sister (rapper), Miss Foozie (Nightlife Host), Nikki Lynette (musical artist and writer), Billy Dec (Rockit Ranch Productions), Heather Kuzmich (model from “America’s Next Top Model”), Tarell McCranny (playwright), Maggie Morgan (Akira fashionista) and moi! :) Check out more fab fotos here!
The Chicago Botanic Garden held their 10th “Antiques and Garden Fair” during a recent lovely spring weekend. This year’s theme, “Great American Gardens,” featured exhibits and floral displays donated and installed by premier designers including William Heffernan, Mariani, Craig Bergmann, Rosborough Partners, Schmechtig Landscapers, Kehoe Designs, Jody and Kim Merlin. Show co-producers Donna LaPietra, Jane O’Neil and Susan Canmann helped assemble more than 100 dealers from Europe and the U.S. for this show which featured the best in antique garden furnishings, botanical art and home and garden design. Guest speaker and honorary chair was Italian designer Alessandra Branca. The booths and gardens were so inspiring they made you want to rush back home and apply the ideas to your own little slice of heaven! Click here for more images!
Don’t forget on May 21st, as our dear friend and man about town, Greg Hyder, will be honored as the 2010 “Man of Vision” at the Peninsula! Benefitting the Midwest Eye-Banks, this event is annually listed as one of the city’s top fun fundraisers so mark your calendars now: With all of the friends Greg has, you can be sure this will be a sell-out! For tickets and Tribute Book info, please visit www.IllinoisEyeBank.org or call 312-706-6750.
WITS (Working in the Schools) was founded in 1991 by Marion Stone and Joanne Alter and is an organization I think you should know about. WITS promotes literacy and the love of reading among Chicago’s low-income youth by providing one-on-one tutoring and volunteers to give under-resourced teachers a helping hand. To date, they partner with 31 organizations and are in 26 Chicago schools. Their fundraiser, “Blackboard Affair,” will be held on Friday, April 30th, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Chicago Illuminating Company. There will be open bar, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, live raffle and a DJ. I hope you check out their web site and see all of the good they’re doing! (Also, if you have any hardcover children’s books in good condition, they can always use them!) Tickets are $95 for general admission and $150 for VIP; visit www.WITSChicago.org/Blackboard-Affair or contact Kristen Kovach at 312-422-6210 for more information.
Lots of events coming up for the Service Club of Chicago! The first one will be a ROOFTOP Cubs game this Friday, April 30th! The Cubs play the Arizona Diamondbacks starting at 1:20 p.m. The Brixen Ivy Rooftop celebration includes your own personal chef who will be grilling quarter-pound gourmet hamburgers and cheeseburgers, Italian sausage, Polish sausage and chicken breast sandwiches along with homemade potato salads, pasta salads, fruit trays and their own “Brixen Ivy Brownies.” As you can see, you won’t go home hungry! Come out and see the Cubs win AND support the Service Club of Chicago (one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in town at 120 years old!) Tickets are $125. View the invite here or contact Myra Reilly for more info at 847-234-4828. Their next event is “Day at the Races” at Arlington Race Track on Sunday, May 16th. The buffet luncheon will take place in the Governor’s Room from 12:30 p.m. til 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $130. For more info, call Laurie Davis at 773-406-1823. And remember, ladies are asked to wear hats!
It’s spring (I think!?) and love is in the air…especially for my newly married friends, Julie Lawrence and Dave DeWitt! Congrats and I hope I see little DeWitts real soon! :)
I hope to see all of you at a few of these fun events down the road! In the meantime, have a great week and we’ll “talk” soon!
P.S. Check out this cool idea! Described as the “21st century solution to stiletto woes,” “Spare Pears” are flexible ballet shoes rolled into a little plastic carrying case. They’re small enough (3.5” by 2”) to fit into your tiniest clutch and practical enough to slip into at any event. What a great alternative to carrying your cumbersome tennis shoes to work!! They come in pink, black and silver and priced at $22.50, they are the perfect after-party shoe or for use as a spare pair for the office. (Congrats on this much-appreciated idea, Beata and Anna!)