Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said her 9-year-old ballerina daughter lured the Florida Democrat to the world of dance.
That’s partly why she found herself at last night’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Opening Night Gala Benefit at the Kennedy Center.
Tonya Williams, director of legislative affairs in the office of the vice president, got even more involved, as the dancers shanghaied her and other audience members to join them onstage for an improvisational number known as “Minus 16.”
At dinner afterwards Wasserman Schultz sat with Citigroup Inc. Chairman Emeritus Sanford Weill.
A few tables away she could see Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Alabama Democrat, with whom she shares a Capitol Hill townhouse -- sometimes referred to as the “sorority house.” Their other housemate is Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the New York Democrat.
Also present were presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett; freshman lawmaker Marc Veasey, a Texas Democrat; lobbyist Heather Podesta; Joyce Brayboy from Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; BET Networks Chairman Debra Lee; and Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts.
Lyndon Boozer from AT&T Inc. and Gina Adams of FedEx Corp. were two of the event’s chairmen.
Renaldo Gardner, a dancer with the New York-based company, wore a floor-length kilt with an orange-and-green tartan to the dinner.
“I just like to be different,” he said. After the three-course meal, guests danced to Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner tunes performed by a live band.
The event raised about $700,000, which is primarily used as scholarship money for local students in Washington. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will hold auditions for the Alvin Ailey School on Feb. 10.
Southern Co. and the Weill Family Foundation were among the evening’s leading sponsors.
Musician Don McLean pursues a quiet life in Maine with his family these days, but the world invades now and then.
Last night the Motion Picture Association of America held a reception for McLean in honor of the new documentary about his career titled “American Troubadour.”
One guest was Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine who had the iconic “American Pie” played at her wedding rehearsal dinner last year.
Also attending were William Cohen, the former secretary of defense and now the chairman and chief executive officer of the Cohen Group, and Pine Creek Partners Managing Director Rick Rickertsen, a fan since his youth, who asked McLean to entertain his guests at his annual Christmas party.
McLean lamented the state of music these days. “Spectacle rock,” he called it. “The music is secondary to the spectacle.”
Senator Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat, presented former National Endowment for the Arts chairman Rocco Landesman with the Thornton Wilder Prize at Ford’s Theatre Monday night for his lifetime commitment to drama and letters.
Prior to joining the NEA, Landesman was a successful private investor and Broadway producer whose credits include “Angels in America.”
During his acceptance, Landesman mentioned that he and Udall’s wife, Jill Cooper, lived on the same street and went to the same school as youngsters in Missouri.
The evening marked the 75th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Wilder’s “Our Town.” Ford’s Theatre is staging the Pulitzer Prize-winning play in honor of the milestone.
Nephew Tappan Wilder and other enthusiasts read from the writer’s interviews and letters before convening at Bistro D’oc for a reception. There the attendees included Linda Stern, widow of musician Isaac Stern, and Landesman’s wife, Debby, a corporate philanthropic adviser.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Rich Jaroslovsky on technology, Ryan Sutton on dining.