- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Wave-of-the-wand makeovers were hardly required for the abundance of Cinderellas gracing the Washington Ballet’s spring gala this year.

Gorgeously costumed young dancers from the company’s upcoming production of “Cinderella” looked as if they had come straight out of a fairy-tale book as they greeted guests on either side of a red carpet last Wednesday night in the gilded Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, the perfect place for a poor little match girl to meet her prince.

The Prince Charming in this case? Obviously artistic director Septime Webre, confessing privately he had only just that afternoon finished the choreography for the ballet, a world premiere set to the music of Sergey Prokofiev to take place at the Kennedy Center May 28 through June 1.

Among Cinderellas — in spirit — were Karyn Frist, who served as an honorary patron along with her husband, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. She was a ballet major in college, she noted proudly. The couple admitted they never had seen the Washington Ballet in action before (although there was plenty of that on the dance floor later) but would be going soon.

“He’s taking me to ‘Cinderella’ for my birthday but doesn’t know it yet,” Mrs. Frist confided just before the Tennessee Republican (who said he is a Grand Ole Opry fan) took good advantage of introductory remarks to check his electronic messages.

Some evening styles easily matched dancers’ costumes — flashes of pink and purple satin — around tables festooned with an abundance of pastel blooms. Spanish Ambassador Javier Ruperezslipped in the door just in time for dessert after dinner at the White House with President Bush and the Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar. (Mr. Ruperez and his wife, Rakela, were honorary patrons for the evening.) Other belles du bal and their gents spotted at the $500-per-person (minimum) affair included Mary andMandell Ourisman, Grace andMorty Bender, Lorraine andChris Wallace, Dr. Ron and Beth Dozoretz, Cindy andEvan Jones, AnnandKnight Kiplinger, Ruthie and Dr.LaSalle Leffall, DorothyandBill McSweeny, Nina andPhilip Pillsbury, Dawnand Frank SaulandRichardandKatharine Scully.

“It’s a switched-on group who loves dance and who likes to dance,” said benefit chairwomanConnie Carter Lawson, who was soon spotted with her husband, un-buttoned-down JPMorgan banker W. David Lawson IV, keeping time to the beat of Free Spirit’s retro disco hits.

Ballet chairman Kay Kendall seemed pleased with the event’s estimated $200,000 net but admitted that an additional 10 tables could have been accommodated in the recently renovated and reopened space. “It’s a hard giving year, but we’re not complaining,” she said.

There was no fairy godmother in sight at the stroke of midnight, although no one on the ballet’s hard-working board seemed to take notice.

“Our budget is three times what it was when I first joined up in 1988, but we’re still on the cusp between red and black,” longtime trustee Bill Harwood said. “What we need is an angel.”

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