Party Line: Elegant 'Jubilee' toasts 25 years of Ballet Memphis

Dancer Crystal Brothers (center) has been at Ballet Memphis the longest — 16 seasons. With her at the company’s 25th anniversary party, “Jubilee in Silver,” are veteran Ballet Memphis members (from left) Stephanie Hom, Rafael Ferreras, Steven McMahon and Travis Bradley.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Dancer Crystal Brothers (center) has been at Ballet Memphis the longest — 16 seasons. With her at the company’s 25th anniversary party, “Jubilee in Silver,” are veteran Ballet Memphis members (from left) Stephanie Hom, Rafael Ferreras, Steven McMahon and Travis Bradley.

Ballet Memphis celebrated its 25th anniversary with the elegant "Jubilee in Silver" gala Saturday evening at The Columns at One Commerce Square.

Guests feasted on a dinner by Karen Carrier that included lamb porterhouse chops glazed with espresso, honey and aromatic herbs on tables decorated with individual centerpieces by area artists and others.

An arrangement by their daughter, Elise Lauterbach, graced the table of Ballet Memphis artistic director Dorothy Gunther Pugh and her husband, Robert Pugh.

Following dinner, guests moved to theater-type seating for Ballet Memphis performances. Paul McKinney, music director for Stax Music Academy's rhythm section and Soulsville Jazz Ensemble, played the musical introduction, a stirring "Deep River,"on trumpet.

The audience had a sneek preview of works in progress for "The River Project," one choreographed by Steven McMahon, Ballet Memphis company dancer and choreographic associate; and the other by Julia Adam, Ballet Memphis artistic associate.

Guests then dined on a chocolate pot de créme dessert buffet-style before joining fellow guests and members of Ballet Memphis to dance to music performed by the Earnestine & Hazel's house band.

Dorothy Gunther Pugh was pleased with the event. "Everyone's spirit is as beautiful or more than the bodies you see up here dancing tonight," she told the audience.

She thanked party chairman Kate Duignan, who conceived the event.

Dr. Henry G. Herrod, Ballet Memphis chairman of the board, lead the audience in a champagne toast. He described Ballet Memphis as "not just something great for Memphis, but a national treasure."

The grape race

Brent Sands watched bar and restaurant employees carrying trays loaded with full wine glasses and beer bottles as they ran down Beale Street Sunday in the Great Wine Race.

"I'm from New York, so this is one of those 'Only in Memphis' kind of things -- in a good way," said Brent, who was with Kara Carter.

Eric Yoder, a server from B. B. King's Blues Club, ran in a pair of Aldo loafers instead of running shoes. "I was an alternate," said Eric, who filled in for someone else. Still, he didn't spill a drop.

Huey's came in first place; Grove Grill, second; Blue Monkey Midtown, third; and Mesquite Chop House Downtown, fourth.

Other contestants took part in a grape-stomping contest. Twenty pounds of grapes were used for the competition. Participants had two minutes to stomp grapes in a tub without holding onto anyone or the tub.

"Two minutes is a long time when you think about it," said Brad Wilson from Silky O'Sullivan's grape-stomping team. "My feet are wet and sticky, but it was fun," said Brad, who was surprised his feet didn't change color. "I thought I was gonna have red up to my thighs."

Huey's came in first place; Blind Bear, second; and Newby's, third.

Patricia Sewell from Blind Bear was chosen Queen of the Vine.

GPAC Gala

Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, executive director of Germantown Performing Arts Centre, wore blue suede stiletto shoes at Saturday night's GPAC Gala. "Viva La GPAC" was the theme of this year's event, so Elvis was everywhere.

A life-size cardboard cutout of John Paul Jones, who chaired the event with his wife, Sandra, stood next to a cutout of Elvis in the lobby. "John Paul and Elvis welcomed people to the gala," said GPAC director of development Deni Hirsh.

Singer Caroline Jones, the Joneses' granddaughter, was the featured performer.

The evening included live and silent auctions. Jim's Place Grille and Eclectic Catering provided the hors d'oeuvres. Dinner was from Harrah's Tunica.

Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797; donahue@commercialappeal.com

© 2012 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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