Saturday, February 11, 2017

Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Palm Beach Dance Gala Over-Delivers

Dancer at the Breakers
All photos by Lieba Nesis

Palm Beach Breakers was the venue for the 8th Annual Career Transitions for Dancers "Heart and Soul Gala" which started with a 7 PM cocktail hour. Being my first Palm Beach social happening, I was excitedly anticipating the evening chaired by New York friend Anka Palitz, Ann Van Ness, Jennifer Myerberg and George Palladino.

Chairwomen Ann Van Ness & Anka Palitz

Anka has been on the ABT board for 28 years and has been supporting the ballet for 40. Her enthusiasm for dance was manifested by her ebullience on the red carpet, looking resplendent in a grey Carmen Marc Valvo gown with a diamond necklace and earring ensemble that would make Elizabeth Taylor blush. Anka has been chairing this gala since the inception of the organization 30 years ago, which gives dancers small business loans and scholarships after they are forced to retire at early ages due to injury or advanced age.

Dancer Marcelo Gomes

Anka told me that the current crop of dancers are better and more athletic than any in the history of dance, remarking that tonight's honoree, dancer Marcelo Gomes, was more talented than Nureyev.

Anka Palitz & Brian Stokes Mitchell

Anka's svelte figure and youthful appearance belie her age, which is upwards of 75, something she attributes to her shunning of sweets and doing one half an hour of exercise every morning. When she presented Marcelo Gomes with an award she remarked, "this is a man every woman and man lives to dance with."

Isabelle Peters

As the evening progressed, I noted a couple of differences between a Palm Beach and New York happening. Firstly, the women's jewels are even larger and more spectacular in Palm Beach. Moreover, the venue began emptying out at the early hour of 9:30 PM. Most importantly, I saw nobody text or answer their phone during the entirety of the evening-old world manners unheard of in New York.

Tonight I happened to be sitting next to Countess de Bonvouloir another rare occurrence in the Big Apple. With actor Brian Stokes Mitchell emceeing the evening we were treated to four dance performances by the Boca Raton and Palm Beach Ballet - Anka wasn't missing a trick. For the paltry price of $600 you received a delicious meal of ravioli and chicken, spectacular dance performances and a great DJ - no wonder it was sold out.

After a live auction was held with two tickets to Hamilton going for $2,000 and a Carmen Marc Valvo gown garnering $3700 we were treated to the tunes of famed singer Liz Callaway. While Callaway sang " I happen to like New York" after an evening like this, I must say Palm Beach is not too shabby.






- Lieba Nesis

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