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Scene Last Night: DiMenna’s Ballet, Bronx Museum Spring

School of American Ballet
Students at the School of American Ballet perform for guests who raised $1.2 million for the school. Photographer: Amanda Gordon

March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Hedge-fund managers Joseph DiMenna and James Dinan helped raise $1.2 million for the School of American Ballet last night, with tables at the academy’s annual Winter Ball priced as high as $100,000, or $10,000 a seat.

Billionaire David H. Koch danced to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Models wore diamonds by Van Cleef & Arpels, a sponsor. J. Mendel, another sponsor, dressed some of the chairwomen.

Chita Rivera, in a video, recalled enrolling in the school in 1949; George Balanchine wrote “good” on her audition card. The choreographer founded the school in 1934 as a training ground for New York City Ballet.

The current crop of students performed against a dark blue curtain twinkling with lights like a night sky, choreographed by alumnus Silas Farley.

“When you see rehearsals, they’re not like tonight, the kids make mistakes,” said Dinan, the founder of York Capital Management LP. “It changes people’s lives, and if you change one kid’s life, find one more Billy Elliot, count me in.”

The school enrolls 800 students and gives out $1.9 million in financial aid on a $12 million budget; 95 percent of the New York City Ballet’s dancers trained at the school, situated next to the company on the Lincoln Center campus.

Bronx Museum

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. senior director J. Michael Evans and managing director John Mahoney were among 500 guests who sat at tables covered in white satin, with miniature vases of white nerine lilies surrounding a wire sphere filled with LED lights. (“There are no candles in this room, no carbon footprint,” event designer Ron Wendt said.)

Glorious Food catered the meal of artichokes filled with shrimp, lamb pies with puff pastry stars on top, and creme brulee.

Meanwhile, the Bronx Museum of Arts held its Spring Gala across the street from Goldman’s headquarters, guaranteeing proximity to a hall of titans, if not a party full of them. The location at the Conrad Hotel was also close to City Hall, making it easy for Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to drop by (she spoke of painting a mural in the Bronx with the museum), as well as Council member Vanessa L. Gibson.

The event was the museum’s largest, grossing more than $650,000, said its executive director, Holly Block. The lowest-priced “Bruckner Boulevard Tickets” were $650; the highest-priced “Grand Concourse” seats were $4167.

Education Focus

Royal Bank of Canada’s Marybeth Mandanas, who heads the corporate banking group in power and utilities, is entering her third year as a board member for the museum.

“As a woman trying to get more experience professionally, I was looking to join a board,” Mandanas said. She met Block at an event at her former firm, Citigroup Inc. With three children, she was drawn to the museum’s focus on education.

The Bronx museum’s reach in the art world is also impressive: last year the museum oversaw the U.S. pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

“Our job is to make sure the museum’s thesis is broad enough,” Mandanas said. “We can’t serve just the Bronx, because there’s not enough means there to do that.”

Almost every night in New York, the fundraising job gets done, with many variations, for many causes.

Art Show

Tonight, collectors Dan Loeb, Henry Kravis, and Andy Hall are expected at a first shop of a fair hosted by the Art Dealers Association of America, with 72 galleries exhibiting. The event, the Art Show, benefits the educational and social-service programs of Henry Street Settlement, the Lower East Side-based nonprofit.

Last week, the Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders raised $850,000 with a casino night at the Plaza; the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York raised $2.3 million at the Waldorf Astoria, honoring John Thain, CEO of CIT Group Inc., who said he learned service from his father, a doctor who made house calls; and the New York Botanical Garden raised $600,000 at the Mandarin Oriental, with a night in Key West coinciding with its Orchid Show, which promises an even balmier escape from the cold weather within the Bronx-based garden’s conservatory.

Also last week, Jazz at Lincoln Center christened the Appel Room, named after Robert J. Appel, a former partner at Neuberger Berman, for his $20 million gift. (The space, with a wall of windows overlooking Columbus Circle, was previously called the Allen Room.)

“It’s like potato chips, I started and I can’t stop,” said Appel (pronounced ah-PELL), the chairman of Jazz at Lincoln Center. “I did more than I thought I was going to do.”

Uber Ride

Fundraising is never done. “That’s what institutions are,” said Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. “If you believe in the institution, you don’t mind.”

Generosity can extend all the way home this month, with Uber Technologies Inc.’s first Ride for a Cause campaign.

The makers of the mobile taxi app are donating $1 to charity for rides in March. Customers can choose one of five beneficiaries: the Nature Conservancy, the Fresh Air Fund, the Food Bank for New York City, New York Cares, and Feed.

Compared to past Uber promotions -- such as delivering kittens to offices for playtime -- Ride for a Cause is more conventional cause marketing, aimed at the regular customer.

“It lets you do something nice on your morning commute,” said Carla Vass, Uber’s community manager in New York.

Rafi Mohammed, author of “The 1% Windfall,” said asking customers to direct their donation in advance of rides may limit potential donations.

“If Uber was more charitable, it would notify all riders of the program at the end of each ride,” Mohammed said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christine Harper at charper@bloomberg.net

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