On Monday March 1, 2010, the School of the American Ballet held its annual Winter Ball, sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels, and hosted by honorary chairmen Al Roker and Deborah Roberts. The evening took place at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, where dance devotees gather every year to witness the timeless stage creation of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Patrons of the ballet sat in their black tie garbs around tables draped in peach, which were adorned with whimsical centerpieces with roses tucked inside glass bubbles.
A giant Van Cleef & Arpels banner depicting a bejeweled ballerina brooch was draped from a balcony; this legendary brooch, which is still sold today, was originally designed by Maurice Duvalet (who worked with Claude Arpels) and George Balanchine for Balanchine’s wife, the dancer and Broadway star Vera Zorina. Balanchine claimed that he was always attracted to precious gems for their deep colors and sparkling brilliance and even identified that different jewels possess different personalities. In 1966, when he and Claude Arpels examined jewelry in the elegant Fifth Avenue salon, he was inspired to choreograph a ballet based on the qualities of different stones. The result was the world’s first full-length plotless ballet, Jewels, made for the New York City Ballet.
In celebration of the ball, students of the School of American Ballet—the official school of New York City Ballet, which was founded in 1934 by Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine—performed a beautiful pièce d’occasion after the dinner. Delicate desserts were served after the performance, and guests gathered on the dance floor to twirl around in the glowing room.
Some of the finest dancers of the past and present are SAB alumni, including Jacques D’Amboise, Merrill Ashley, Suzanne Farrell, Darci Kistler, Ethan Stiefel, and Chita Rivera to name a few.
Proceeds from the Winter Ball are used to award scholarships, maintain state-of-the-art studios and a residence hall, and offer vital student programs beyond the studio.