The New Orleans Ballet Association and BRAVO (Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization) amassed its members and Terpsichorean pals for two recent events. The first, a bal masque, held at the Windsor Court Hotel, was titled a “Tribute to Jenny Hamilton and Staff: A Century of Service to NOBA” and made leadership the levity, while the second, weeks-later one rallied tangueros (or wannabes) to the Federal Ballroom. Such was the fancy footwork. The eyes had it, too, when the New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology raised glasses of vinous cheer at the Sheraton New Orleans during the 64th annual Symposium.

Centennial Kudos

“Service” Co-Chairwoman Charlotte Bollinger and Dottie Belletto, respectively board chairwoman and board member of the New Orleans Ballet Association, honored the organization’s small, dedicated staff, who, collectively, have contributed well over 100 years to NOBA. Take a bow, executive director Jenny Hamilton, finance/operations director Sandra Fank, box office manager Wanda Fulton, and technical/wardrobe director Joan Long. “Charlotte and I thought the time was right to do a fabulous evening in appreciation of a truly incredible staff,” remarked Dottie.

Highlights abounded, starting with the elegant round of cocktailing with harp music by Rebecca Todaro, prizes for the most beautiful and original masks given later to Toni Bachmann and Kent Ozborn, and the seated dinner in La Chinoiserie on the Windsor Court’s 23rd floor. Board Vice Chairman/master of ceremonies John Duck, accompanied by wife Renea; retired Vice President of Chevron, Gulf of Mexico Warner Williams; and former NOBA executive director Jon Teeuwissen all spoke. Presenters of the awards to the staff included patrons whose involvement with NOBA spans more than 30 years: lifetime board members Henrietta “Henri” Hall (with husband Terry) and Cecile Gibson; former NOBA Chairman Dr. Bernard M. Jaffe (with Marlene); former NOBA board member Brent Wood; and BRAVO President Kathleen Mix Diamond.

When it was time for auction action, Charlotte’s brother, Boysie Bollinger (with wife Joy), took to the lectern to gather funds (fun, too) for the ballet company as people vied to purchase a fox cape from Saks, a private dinner at Mulate’s Party Hall given by Kerry and the in-attendance Tiffa Boutte, an afternoon at Rosella Plantation donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ben Bordelon, and a master copy of a Degas ballet pastel donated by Dr. Charles Dupin. Respective purchasers were Norma Jean Sabiston, the above Jon, Pam and the above Warner Williams, and NOBA Chairwoman Charlotte.

Prandial pleasures were many, abetted visually by tall centerpieces of orchids, hurricane lamps, candelabra and candles. A spinach and arugula salad was followed by a main course of filet of beef after which guests descended to the hotel’s Gallery on the fourth floor for a suite of sweets, led by the New Orleans Brass Band and Zulu Tramps. Mini desserts, pralines, chocolate-dipped fruit and wee cakes enticed everyone. The “Tribute” throng also liked the idea of having another round of ambulatory socializing and took photos with Brian Nelson, Big Chief of the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians.

Noted were Jan and Carlos Mickan, Rachel Hery, Andie and Jake Giardina, Carol Stone and Patrick McNamara, Stephen Putt, Cecelia and Rudy Odom, Cathy Green, George and Nell Wilson, Mike and Catherine Howard, and a host of others. As for the benefactor and special gifts honoring the staff, they were from Lee Michael Fine Jewelry, represented at the dinner by Jay Aronson and Jose Awill.

Thanks during the evening tapped many of the above, including Phyllis Taylor, along with the program-listed Chad Berg and Lee Michaels, Jacquee Carvin, Lauren Faustermann, Teresa Guzzetta, Sakari Morrison and Chevron, Jeff Strout, and, from the Windsor Court, general manager David Teich and Gregory Curtis. Also, the “Tribute” throng, that, in addition to presenting top international companies on the Main Stage, develops a dance education program: more than tuition-free 5,500 dance classes and workshops.

In the Gallery, the dance floor lured the patron pack – many of whom were masked in the spirit of the season’s merriment – to strut their stuff.

And what could be more fun than to dance to the oh-so New Orleans numbers of Al “Little Fats” Jackson!

Tango Tout

Chaired by Sandra and Russ Herman, who garnered special thanks, “Twilight & Tango Soiree,” which was presented by BRAVO to benefit NOBA, again acknowledged NOBA Chairwoman Charlotte Bollinger and BRAVO President Kathleen Mix Diamond. At the Federal Ballroom, the attractions included the Argentine ambiance, a theme menu by Capdeboscq Catering Service LLC, tango demonstrations by BRAVO members Teresa Guzzetta and Joan Zaslow with teachers Stephen Howard and Javier Juarez, and by professionals Ector Gutierrez and Katarina Boudreaux.

Further attractions were the decor of red table linens with black overlays, roses, candles and lighting designed by Joan Long of NOBA; drawings for fabulous prizes; entertainment by Dr. Steele’s trio, Dr. Jazz & the New Orleans Sounds; and co-emceeing by state Rep.Helena Moreno and Dr. John Estrada, who also caught limelight as the guest singer.

Revelers included Nadia Al Hashimi, Diane Hollis, Sharon Marchand, Jean Rice, Heidi Dugan, Gee Mercadel-Tucker, Gayle Dellinger, Jamie Moreau, Faith and Bill Peperone, John and Carol Foley, Carolyn and Jerry Fortino, Deborah and Corky Harkins, Laura Badeaux, Maurice and Carmen Brown, Terry and Lynette Dufrene, and the above mentioned Jacquee Carvin and also Kent Ozborn.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kathleen Mix Diamond after the festive fact. “It was a close group that enjoys being together and everybody was dancing.”

Eye Appeal

The Presidents’ Wine & Cheese Reception is the main social activity for attendees of the annual symposium of the New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology, a two-and-a half day annual educational conference for ophthalmologists. For the most recent conference, the 64th, 440 people registered with more than 50 percent coming in from outside Louisiana. The theme was “Reflections on the Bayou: Update in Retina, Oculoplastics and Anterior Segment.”

Almost 100 of them hied to the reception in the Sheraton’s first floor Gallery, where Mardi Gras was the decorative mood, and for the cuisine, a quarter of exquisite California wines, cheeses, charcuterie selections, smoked salmon and Tuscan-grilled roasted vegetables delighted the palate. So did the table centerpieces of king cakes, which were clearly a hit. None remained at the end of the reception.

The Brent Rose Trio provided the entertainment for the lively reception, which had guests enjoying the extensive collection of artwork by George Rodrigue, while they danced to Rose’s funky beat.

Within the group were NOAO President Dr. Marilu O’Byrne with husband Sam Robinson, President-Elect Dr. Jay LaCour, immediate past President Dr. Nancy Wagner and Thomas Boos, Dr. Adham al Hariri, Dr. Bruce Barron, and program Chairman Dr. Brandon Davis and Tania. Also, Academy executive director Amber Howell and from event sponsor The Armametarium, John Nail and Robbie Jung.

And, Drs. Scott Lanoux, Sean O’Sullivan, Pulin Shah, Brendan Sumich, Jayne Weiss, and Michael Worley.

Post-reception socializing continued at a 30-person dinner at the Bourbon House, where the 2015 speakers and program committee were feted at a seafood feast capped by New Roads pecan pie topped with vanilla ice cream. At that point, it was Aye! Aye! for the appetite.