Last week, the Silicon Valley Capital Club in downtown San Jose hosted arts supporters in a sold-out, dazzling display of couture by San Francisco based couture designer, Max Nugus, to benefit the Ballet San Jose School scholarship program which provides a means for young, talented dancers to follow their dreams.
The school teaches 350 students, ages 4 to 19 with an open and a professional track, 6 regular teachers and 4 accompanists, along with additional guest teachers. Students are given ample opportunities to dance in their own shows as well as in the Ballet San Jose performances, such as the Nutcracker and the upcoming production of The Firebird.
Ballet School Director, Lise la Cour, described the dancers as "part of my heart" and emphasized the importance of involving a younger generation both as participants and patrons. One of the dancers from the program, Svenja Reinschmidt, who attended with la Cour (both shown at right) spoke about her experience: "Without the scholarship, there would be no way for me to continue dancing. Dancing is my love."
Marie LoPresto, the newest member of the Governing Board of Trustees and current Chair of the School committee, was radiant when opening the luncheon show after a cocktail reception. Ysabel Duron of KRON 4 served as Mistress of Ceremonies, introducing the show and emphasizing how "grounding in the arts is so important to every young person." (Duron and LoPresto pictured with drawing donor, Larry Stone.)
Models in the show included members of the Operating Board, School Committee, dancers and friends. As with similar local fashion shows, the guests loved having people they knew in the show, and it added to the liveliness of the afternoon. The three part show, featuring casual wear, hants, and evening wear, began after lunch, showcasing the gorgeous color of Nugus's designs in ample natural light. (Photo top left shows Nugus admiring Ballet San Jose Operating Board member, Shellie Fry in one of his gowns.) All of the garments were fabulously fitted for the models as well. Following the show and donation drawing, gowns and other items from Nugus's collection were available for purchase at a 10% discount, and another 10% of the purchase was donated to the ballet.
The "donation drawings" were like a raffle for live auction items - some wonderful packages including a Tiffany pearl necklace won by Linda Graham (at right with Brian Neal, Tiffany's Regional Director), a golf package at CordeValle Golf Club, weekend use of a Bentley automobile from the Silicon Valley Auto Group, a luxury spa gift basket from Dustin David Salons and AgeDefy Dermatology, and a weekend at the new San Francisco Ritz Carlton condominiums. I've never seen raffle tickets sell like these hotcakes before.
During a brief pause between show sets, Ballet San Jose Artistic & Executive Director, Dennis Nahat spoke about the ballet's upcoming tour to China this summer. He said of the organizations where they intend to perform that they didn't know where San Jose was, but when he said "Silicon Valley", their eyes lit up, so 25,000 people will see the Ballet San Jose "of Silicon Valley" performing in China this summer.
At the end of the day, the event raised $25,000 for the ballet school. All expenses were generously underwritten in advance. I'm looking forward to next year when I hope they have this event again.
For more photos, see my pictorial.
Sarah Granger grew-up doing pirouettes in ballet slippers and on ice skates, and she loves hearing Dennis Nahat tell stories.
Photos by Sarah Granger & Robert Shomler (3rd image).