Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sarasota Ballet Gala - Five Fabulous Years

Truly an evening of wonderful surprises and enchanted dancing.  That's what I thought of Sarasota Ballet's Celebrating Five Fabulous Years Gala on Monday night.  The evening started with cocktails and then a 90 minute program on the stage of the Asolo.  Even though the stage was bare of any sets whatsoever, the performances of the dancers were so captivating, it was just magical.

The Five Fabulous Years refers to the tenure of Director Iain Webb who has taken the company to a national or maybe even international level.  When Iain started his comments at the beginning of the program, he asked four women to join him on stage - his wife Margaret (Maggie) Barbieri, who is the Assistant Director, Jean Allenby Weidner, who is the founder of the ballet, Hillary Steele who is board chair, and Mary Anne Servian, who is the Managing Director.  He said behind every great man stands an even greater woman and in his case, stands four of them!  He then presented them all with gorgeous flowers.

Next, the program started and a trio danced Le Corsaire.  After the dance Iain presented one of the dancers, Kate Honea, with a crystal vase in honor of her 10 years with the company.  The next group danced La Bayadere and at the end, Iain surprised everyone, including the dancer Ricardo Rhodes, with the announcement that Ricardo was being made a principal dancer next season.

Octavio Martin was enthusiastically welcomed back after being out with back problems and Kayleigh Likens and Yamil Maldonado, who will represent The Sarasota Ballet School in competition in NYC, danced from Diana & Acteon.  Several other dances were performed including the Act II Duet from Matthew Bourne's  Swan Lake.

To me, the biggest announcement of the evening was that the The Nutcracker will be back for the holiday season - YAY!!!!  A brand new version with choreography by Mathew Hart will take us back to Christmas Eve in New York during the 1930s and will be a homage to John and Mable Ringling, Sarasota, and the Ringling Circus.  I can't wait!  Can I buy tickets right now?!  I so missed The Nutcracker last season, as it was our family tradition to always take our grandchildren each year.  I am thrilled to be able to re-institute that tradition once again.

Iain told us all to watch the newspaper on March 7th for an exciting announcement.  I will definitely be sure to do that!  I really feel like we are extraordinary lucky to have such a wonderful ballet company in our midst.  What a treasure they are!

Then we were off to the tent in the Asolo parking lot, made much nicer with a carpeted floor.  Paul Mattison of Mattison's provided the catering.  I know this is a small thing, but I absolutely love his garlic butter.  I am not a big roll eater, but when I see that garlic butter, I just have to have one.  Yes, there is definitely a reason I am not a size two.

Others seen at the event and not photographed below were: Michael and Kathy Bush, Warren and Margot Coville, Sally Yanowitz, Janet Sperling, Teri Hansen, Ken and Chris Pfahler, Howard and Carol Phillips, Ken and Peggy Abt, Susan Buck, Jane Smiley, Mort and Carol Siegler, Betty Schoenbaum, Emily Walsh, Harry and Victoria Leopold, Charlie Huisking, Joan Nixon, and the list goes on and on.

Richard Carpenter and Hillary Steele

Michael Scott, Michael Marraccini, and Noreen Delaney

Jean Weidner and Mary Ann Robinson

BJ Creighton and Ric and Gina Gregoria

Sydney Goldstein, Vivian Kouvant, and Flora Major

Debbie Shapiro and Julie Milton

Judy Cahn and Barbara Zdravecky

Susan and Terry Romaine

Bob Bailey, Mary Anne Servian, John Simon, and Ginger Bailey

Martha Honey and Bob Dudley

Bill and Lois Cohodas

Marv Albert and Gerri Aaron

Heather Clark and Kim Wheeler

Veronica Brady, Renee Hamad, and Scott Anderson 

Joy Weston and Lisa Walsh

Dr. Arthur and Lynn Guilford

Best valet company ever!  Rodney Tregembo and Southwest Parking

The pretty centerpiece and the garlic butter!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Education Foundation's Evening of Excellence

Such a fun event is the Education Foundation's Evening of Excellence!  I love to go to this event!  It is such a treat to see these young artists' fabulous works.  Any emerging artist would be thrilled to have their work sold for what these works go for.  During the art auction, most averaged around $1,000, a couple went for $2,500 and one went for $15,000 - Chicken Comb-Over - after much spirited bidding.  Jimmy Dean presided over the auction with his usual enthusiasm,  The students donate their art work and different framing stores frame them gratis.  The Ed Foundation netted over $45,000 from the auction alone and over $250,000 for the entire event.

The art teachers in Sarasota County schools are phenomenal.  They guide and encourage these high school students throughout the year to produce their best work.  There were over 200 submissions and the top 25 were selected to be spotlighted at this event, after being judged by a panel of several art experts.

Co-chairs Chris Cremer and Meg Mahoney did a nice job pulling the event together with over 400 attendees (They were both seen walking around the room during the auction with bottles of wine, eagerly pouring the ever flowing vino.  I think we all know that the more liquored up you are, the more you'll bid!).  The centerpieces were really interesting - kind of like soaring paper airplanes (photo below).  They were designed by Victoria Blooms who said "artists start with a common core, an education that strengthens their own skills and allows their creativity to to take flight in infinite directions".  A very cute idea.

This was new Ed Foundation Executive Director Susan Scott's first Evening of Excellence.  Her grace, friendly personality, and strength were shining through all night.  They are really lucky to have such a wonderful leader taking them to the next level.

Like always, the food at Michael's On East was top-notch, with a fantastic rich, but light dessert - a pecan topped chocolate mousse kind of thing with extra toffee sauce for good measure.  I must admit, the person sitting beside me had to leave early and left her dessert.  It starred at me throughout the entire auction and at one point, when no one was looking, I ate hers too!  Sssh, now don't tell anyone!

Others attending not photographed below were: Mike Bryant, Gayle Guynup, Shelley McDaniel, Peg McKinley, Tim Hensey, Rick Fawley, Jon and Janey Swift, George McGonagill, CJ Fishman, Al Weis, Lem Sharpe, Dr. Larry Thompson, and many more.

Co-chairs Chris Cremer and Meg Mahoney

Susan and John Scott

Elizabeth Rose and Kristin Benedict Calandra - yes, my daughter

Sue and Phil Hammersley

Victoria Leopold and Felice Schulaner

Julie Pinkerton and Tracy Knight

Mike and Marie Pender ready to bid!

School Superintendent Lori White

Nancy and Michael Longworth

Renee Phinney and Rebecca Blitz

Paige Dettman with Chris and Ken Pfahler

Fran and John LaCivita

Constance White Davis and Peggy Wiggins

Taylor and Stevan Collins

Teri and Fred Derr

Michael and Caroline Zucker

The tablescape

The unique centerpiece

That yummy dessert

Monday, February 27, 2012

SMHF's Corinthian Gala

(Editor's note:  Look for the Education Foundation's Evening of Excellence on Tuesday; the Sarasota Ballet Gala on Wednesday; Junior League Legacy Luncheon on Thursday; and Ringling in Bloom Lilly Pulitzer luncheon on Friday.  A busy, busy last few days!)

Hands down, Sarasota Memorial Heathcare Foundation's Corinthian Gala on Saturday night was THE best event of the year - at least so far.  It is going to take a very special party to top this one!  To me, this is exactly what an event is supposed to look like and feel like.  Frankly, I thought it was perfection.  Congrats to co-chairs Kim Githler and Susan Jones. 

A huge crowd of almost 700 guests attended, which is really saying something since the Van Wezel Foundation Gala with Jerry Seinfeld was also happening right down the street.  It was a very big night in Sarasota!

Turning the Ritz Carlton into a speakeasy was no easy feat, but you really felt like you were reaching a very special destination when you got to the end of the hallway and were met by a flapper gal on top of a marble table greeting you.  As you passed through the draped entryway with the Art Deco embellishments, you entered the 1920s piano bar for Cocktails and Cole, as in Porter, with the Abe Guard Orchestra.  Then it was on to the Peacock Room for the main event and it was glorious!

The table decorations were so pretty!  Some tables had white feather centerpieces, some had tall white lamps, and some had several small vases of white flowers - very charming.  The band was Mark and Kathy Zauss and the Z Street Band who really kept the dance floor hopping.  It was full all night!

What really added to the specialness of the event was so many guests in costume.  There were feathers, boas, and fedoras all over the place!  There were many also in regular gowns and tuxedos, but the mix was very nice.

In the middle of the evening, Dr. Washington Hill did a fund-a-need appeal to match Eliza and Hugh Culverhouse and the Burruss Foundation Trust pledge of $75,000 for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  I couldn't hear if they made it or not, but it is my guess that they did.  I know all the others at my table made a nice donation and I bet lots of others did too.

There was a very cute Dancing through the Decades exhibition with dance numbers from the 20s-the present. 

The food from the Ritz can be hit or miss and luckily for this gala, it was a hit!  This is the second event I have been to there where they had four courses - a very interesting trend.   Starting with a crab cake, followed by a salad, and then a very tasty beef Wellington, and finishing up with a decadent chocolate peanut butter cake.  Good job, Ritz!

As the Peacock Room portion of the evening was winding down, they had a little Keystone Kops raid - very cute.  Then the Corinthian Club After Party opened up, but I went home at that point, as my feet were killing me.  The After Party special room looked fab though.  I bet folks were dancing to DJ Mike Sean into the wee hours!

What a nice and useful gift bag, too - two Tervis Tumblers with the event's signature peacock feather on them and a Cole Porter songbook CD with the SMHF logo on it.  It all will keep the event and the cause in people's minds for a long time to come - which is exactly what a party favor should do!

Other swells attending and not photographed below were: Phil and Julie Delaney, Paul and Jenni Hudson, Art and Peggy Wood, Dick Donegan, Dr. David and Zara Shoemaker, Beth Knopik, Sharon Black Floyd and Bill Harrison, David and Myrna Band, Dr. Craig and Donna Barcomb, Kelly Romanoff, Kelley Lavin, Jennifer and Larry Saslaw, Dr. Michael Swor, Betsy and John Kane-Hartnett, Ellen Berman, Dennis and Graci McGillicuddy, Taylor Collins, Jay Berman, Rep. Vern and Sandy Buchanan, and just so, so many more.

Co-chairs Kim Githler and Susan Jones

Margaret Wise and Teri Hansen

Sarasota Memorial Heathcare CEO Gwen MacKenzie

BJ Creighton, Renee Hamad, and SMH Foundation Pres./CEO Alex Quarles

Kate Wickham and Marjorie North

Denise Mei and Michelle Butler

Ruth Lando and Kaye Chase

Bob and Dottie Garner

Susan Brennan and Dr. Nancy Aft

Jim and Shirley Ritchey

Kathy and Ric Coffey

Julie Milton and Salena Wilhoit

Deborah Beacham, Bob Bartner, and Nikki Sedacca 

Veronica Brady, Tom and Cindy Stuhley

Tommy and Tiffany Taylor

Charlie Ann Syprett, Kyla Weiner, and Pam Swain

Pauline Joerger, Dr. Allison Silver Schwartz, and Rochelle Nigri

John and Fran LaCivita

Stephanie Hefner and Stuart Roth

Deb Knowles and Emily Walsh

George Adley and Deborah Blue

Elena and Dr. Joe Balzano

Jacqueline and David Morton with Deborah and Walt Beacham

Chris and Ken Pfahler and Sally Schule

Ron Gelbman and Laura Nelson

Gloria Moss and Jim Helmich

George Augustin and Pam Daniel shaking a leg

Lisa Intagliata

Ariane Dart and Albert Joerger

Eileen Curd and Flora Major

A Flapper greets us

Entrance into the piano bar


The dancing exhibition

The dance floor stayed full

The after party room

A yummy dessert - partially eaten!