Apart from being the culmination of many year’s of training and hard work for the students, the School of American Ballet’s Workshop Performance Benefits are an important fundraiser. This year’s main event at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, June 3, which also celebrated 50 years of these annual performances, raised an impressive $860,000 for scholarships and school programs. The amount exceeded the School’s goal, and Margie Van Dercook, School executive director, thanked and paid tribute to the generosity of the many attendees, donors and sponsors.
The annual year-end Workshop performances were established in 1965 by Alexandra Danilova, George Balanchine’s former classmate at the Imperial Ballet and a leading ballerina of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The idea was to give the School’s advanced students an opportunity to participate in professionally staged, publicly performed productions of classic ballet works. Over the years, the Workshops have seen hundreds of dancers make their public debut. Hardly surprisingly, they have become something of ‘spot the future stars’ events – and there have been plenty to spot.
June 3 this year also saw the presentation of the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Service to Dena Abergel, SAB faculty member and NYCB Children’s Ballet Master, and Wien Awards for Outstanding Promise to Lyrica Blankfein, Christopher Grant, Baily Jones, and Addie Tapp.
On stage, this year’s performance program included Balanchine’s “Serenade” (staged by Suki Schorer); and excerpts from “Coppélia” (staged by Dena Abergel, Yvonne Borree, Arch Higgins, Katrina Killian, Lisa de Ribere, Jock Soto and Sheryl Ware), “Swan Lake” (staged by Darci Kistler) and “Western Symphony” (staged by Susan Pilarre).
Some of the guests at this year’s event…