Byline: Aileen Mehle
The Vice President couldn’t make it, but Tipper did. And so did Karenna Gore Schiff, the Gores’ lovely oldest daughter, a potent pitcher for daddy and his campaign, as who doesn’t know — and who hasn’t read a hundred times? Tipper, the honorary chairman of the evening along with absent Al, and Karenna graced the main box at the Metropolitan Opera House where American Ballet Theatre was celebrating its 60th anniversary at a glittering gala performance at the Metropolitan Opera House and a dinner dance after at the Tent at Lincoln Center. Also in the front row of the box were the co-chairmen of the celebration, Caroline Kennedy in a glamorous bare silver sequin top and brown organza skirt designed by Carolina Herrera, and Blaine Trump in one-shouldered, drop-dead black silk and a staggering necklace of pearls and diamonds. Other guests brightening every corner of the box were Kelly (Mrs. Cal) Ripken, all in scarlet satin; Emilia Fanjul, so chic in Oscar de la Renta’s strapless striped taffeta with a full skirt and a giant matching stole; Anne Bass in a gun-metal sequined top and long, dark-green skirt, couture, of course; Jane Rosenthal and Lynda Carter, still a Wonder Woman in strapless black, the better to show off the wonder-woman body. I would love to tell you what the men with them wore, but what riveting thing can you say about dinner jackets, be they ever so bespoke?
So now, get ready for a rave. In my eyes, and I’ve been associated with this ballet company since the Lucia Chase-Oliver Smith-Jackie Onassis days, this was the most superb performance of all ABT’s galas. What a magnificent group of dancers it has become under the tremendous direction of Kevin McKenzie, who pulled it together in the years he has been in charge from a struggling if supremely talented company to what we have today, one of the greatest in the ballet world. And this after Misha Baryshnikov abruptly defected as its leader to much wringing of hands. Ha! If anybody missed Misha Monday night, you couldn’t tell from the applause.
There are so many stars in the company: Julie Kent; the incredible Angel Corella; Amanda McKerro; Vladimir Malakhov; Susan Jaffe; Julio Bocca; Paloma Herrera; Jose Manuel Carreno; the wondrous Nina Ananiashvili, whose Dying Swan brought down the house; Alessandra Ferri. They and the company’s ready-to-be stars all danced to “Variations on a Theme by Haydn,” Twyla Tharp’s latest creation making its debut that night. Also making an appearance were such ABT legends of yesteryear as the miraculous Alicia Alonso and Donald Sadler.
As for the temperature, it was one of the hottest nights in May ever, breaking a record. The green and white striped tent, where a thousand and many more guests sat down to dine, was decorated by Renny with tables sprouting topiary gardens in different shapes and sizes. The gardenias, alas, wilted in the heat and gave up the ghost. So did some of the guests who, in the interest of toujours la politesse, shall be nameless, the glowing darlings. The air conditioners had been on all day and all night before the party, but you can’t beat that heat, so they joined it.
And this is a mere smattering, so to speak, of those there: Karenna Gore’s good-looking husband, Dr. Andrew Schiff; Martha Stewart; Jamee and Peter Gregory; Grace and Christopher Meigher; Robert Trump; Nan Kempner; Judy and Sam Peabody; Khalil Rizk; Edwin Schlossberg; Rena and Sami Sindi; Paul Wilmot; Lucile Peyrelongue; Muffie and Dr. Sherrell Aston; Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner; Joanne and Roberto de Guardiola; Richard Avedon; Mai Hallingby and her new diamond engagement boulder; Pepe Fanjul; Arianna von Hohenlohe and Dixon Boardman; Robert Altman; Martin Van Hamel; not forgetting such Friends of ABT as Peter Bacanovic, Sloan Lindemann Barnett, Tory Burch and Marin Hopper, or such corporate chairmen as Jack Kliger, Gedalio Grinberg and Kikuichiro Ishaii. With their help the evening clocked in at $1.2 million.
I think you should know that Caroline Kennedy remained cool and crisp throughout the night. She simply pulled a tortoise comb from her handbag and pulled her thick hair off her face showing off her black pearl drop earrings. She spoke from the stage, along with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Tipper Gore, saying she was happy to continue her mother Jackie’s support of ABT. She said the only difficult time she ever had with going to the ballet was when she was a little girl and her mother asked her to explain the plot of “Swan Lake” to some of Jackie’s friends. “And that, as you know,” deadpanned Caroline while the crowd laughed, “is impossible.” Once a Kennedy always a Kennedy.
On May 18, at Cipriani 42nd Street, the board of trustees of the American Academy in Rome, of which Michael Sovern is chairman and Adele Chatfield-Taylor is president, will give a dinner — a fund-raiser, because that’s a way of life in New York, honoring the artist Chuck Close. It’s all terribly black tie, and Mercedes and Sid Bass of Fort Worth, New York, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. are the benefit chairmen.