The most unforgettable productions of Cirque du Soleil took center stage as The Knights of Sparta presented their 65th annual bal masque, staged Friday in the Great Hall of the Pontchartrain Center. Wonderful costumes, lavish scenery, beautiful music, adept acting and marvelous choreography highlighted the evening as the Knights delighted their guests with a pageant dedicated to the Circus of the Sun entitled, "Le Cirque."
Reigning as queen of the ball was Miss Gabrielle Bernadette Ciaston, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jan W. Ciaston.
As queen, Miss Ciaston wore a princess-style gown of silver re-embroidered Alençon lace, in an overall Baroque pattern. The dress was heavily embellished with Austrian rhinestones, crystal beading and seed pearls, featuring a full court train. A Medici collar of re-embroidered Alençon lace embellished with Austrian rhinestones, crystal beading and seed pearls framed the queen’s face. Her mantle of silver silk lamé featured as its central motif elaborate appliquéd scrolls surrounding the traditional crown and double "S" for Sparta, and was trimmed in aurora borealis stones and crystals. The traditional handset Austrian rhinestone matching crown and scepter completed her royal attire.
His majesty wore a traditional Romanesque-style costume and carried a mantle similar in overall design, material and color to that of the queen. A matching crown and scepter also completed his royal attire.
Maids in her majesty's court were Misses Grace Kathryn Ciaston, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ciaston; Shelby Gray Clutter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mark A. Clutter; McKenna Danielle Dorais, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul J Dorais; Sophia Catherine Epling, daughter of Dr. John P. Epling III and Dr. Kelly M. Meilleur; Monica Nicole Rodriguez, daughter of Mr. Gil Rodriguez and Mrs. Karen C. Davis; and Danielle Nicole Townsley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William G. Townsley.
The maids of the court were costumed to represent productions of Cirque du Soleil. Miss Ciaston portrayed the wintry elegance of "Wintuk"; Miss Clutter recalled the fiery splendor of “Dralion"; Miss Dorais represented the ancient beauty of “Totem”; Miss Epling characterized the aquatic magnificence of "O"; Miss Rodriguez mirrored the Latin majesty of "Luzia"; and Miss Townsley depicted the wondrous power of "KA."
Junior maids of the court were Misses Janna Jolie Babin, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class and Mrs. Jory J. Babin; Haley Gabrielle Clark, daughter of Ms. Perrine A. Santoy and the late Mr. Richard G. Clark; Joycelyn Carol Miller, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald J. Miller, and Sophia Rose Zollinger, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy S. Zollinger.
Royal escorts of the court were Messrs. Thomas William Hodgson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Hodgson; and Maximus Charles Reese, son of Master Sgt. and Mrs. Louis M. Reese Jr.
Princesses of the court were Misses Lauren Ranae Anspaugh, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey F. Anspaugh; Emma-Kate Elaine Dodd, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey L. Dodd; Ariel Monique Lightell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Steven G. Lightell Jr.; and Ainsley Clair and Avery Caitlin Liles, daughters of Dr. and Mrs. A.C. Liles III.
Heralds to his majesty were Masters Issac William Palmer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joshua M. Palmer; and Brady Michael Evans, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chad M. Evans.
Scepter bearers to their majesties were Misses Sofia Elizabeth Hodgson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Hodgson; and Maylee Margaret Reese, daughter of Master Sgt. and Mrs. Reese.
Pages to the queen were Misses Silar Tate Schulman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jordan S. Schulman; and Stella Stefania Soltysik, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Piotr J. Soltysik.
Royal guardsman to the king were Masters Chance Caspian Alexander and Triston Michael Gerard Jamieson, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Casey A. J. Jamieson
The prince and princess of the court, representing Spartan charities, were Master Christian Jerald Griffin and Miss Janet Denise Griffin; son and daughter of Mr. Eric S. Griffin Jr. and Ms. Melanie M. Majoria.
In the culmination of the tableau featuring a lavish vocal and dance sequences that depicted Cirque du Soleil’s "Alegria," the captain was brought forth from a curtain of smoke and made his entrance to the delight of the audience. He wore a traditional Roman tunic-style costume of silver brocade, heavily trimmed with Austrian rhinestones, crystal and rhinestone appliqué designs and seed pearls. His full monarch cape was of silver silk lamé. A classic laurel wreath design surrounding the jeweled Crest of The Knights of Sparta was the central motif of the flowing cape. His Spartan helmet was heavily encrusted with Austrian rhinestones and mirrors, and topped with white triple-set ostrich plumes. As his baton, the caption carried a jewel encrusted Spartan Laconian short sword.
Linking the generations of Carnival tradition, the junior captain then made his entrance — Mr. Brandon James Bogle, son of Mr. and Mrs. John R. Bogle Jr., and grandson of the captain and first lady. He wore a traditional Roman tunic-style costume and cape that matched the captain. He also carried a jeweled sword.
General chairman of the ball was Mr. John A. Tessitore. Honorary general chairmen were Messrs. Michael S. Yenni, president of Jefferson Parish; Edmond J. Muniz, former mayor of Kenner; and James E. "Jimmy" Fitzmorris Jr., former lieutenant governor of Louisiana. General chairman emeritus was Mr. Phillip S. Lundgren Sr. Vice-general chairmen were Messrs. Norman R. Bourgeios Jr., Richard G. Breaux, Philip F. Fricano Jr., Michael J. Haydel Sr., Pendleton W. Larsen Jr., Chris A. Lea, Wayne M. Lee, Jack P. Rizzuto, Donald C. Szabo, Odel P. Zeringue and Dr. Jack J. Jacob.
Chairmen of the ball committees were Messrs. Leon R. Benoit III, Brad J. Bertucci, John R. Bogle Jr., Rob M. Brown, John G. Bruno, Michael J. Caminita III, Carson A. Cheramie, Derrick J. Diebold, Earl M. Duke,III, Michael J. Hadyel Jr., Stephen P. Haydel, Matthew J. Hedrick Jr., Matthew J. Hedrick III, Bryant B. Hedrick, Robert W. Hienz, Herbert L. Leblanc Jr., John A. Mahan, San Nicholas, Barry P. Orillion, Charles H. Plough Jr., Jack J. Rizzuto, Walter F. Schwander, Warren J. Serignet Jr., Joseph A. Trovato Jr., Michael T. Trupiano, Franklin B. Young, Anton P. Yrle, Gasper J. Schiro and Dr. Timothy A. Melancon.
Members of the honorary court committee were Messrs. Jan W. Ciaston, Augustine T. Ciaston, Gregory S. Dutruch, Tyler W.G. Dutruch, David M. Berggran, Mark A. Clutter, Paul J. Dorais, Leonard J. Kinler, Brian J. Plauche, Gil Rodriguez, Frederick C. Schulman, Gerard J. Tonglet, William G. Townsley, 1st Lt. Sean P. Brown and Dr. John P. Epling. Members of the honorary floor committee were Messrs. Arthur F. d'Aquin Jr., D.J. Galiano Jr., Galen S. Lightell Jr., B.J. Perez, Darryl A. Schmitt, John C. Skidmore, Deputy Chief Charles N. Jonau Jr. and Dr. Errol P. Laborde,
Guest performers in the tableau were the Edye Cook Dance Company of Marion, Ohio, under the direction of Mrs. Edye Cook Skidmore, and The Jefferson Ballet Theater under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth J. Beck Jr. Music for the evening was provided by Maestro B.J. Perez and the Orchestre de Carnival. Guest narrator and soloist for the evening was Mr. John C. Skidmore. Lead actor in the tableau was Mr. D.J. Galiano.