Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The show before and after Thursday night's premiere performance of "Don Quixote" rivaled the stage production in sheer glitter, if not in coordination.
The distinguished cast of applauders was headed by President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter and included three senators: former justice and Mrs. Abe Fortas; Mrs. Hugh D. Auchincloss and family, including her daughter, Princess Lee Radziwill: and Mr and Mrs. Arthur Burns.
Supporting them was a cast of thousands, including 400 who came early for a buffet that might have satisfied 50, and 1,100 who went up to the atrium after the performance to stand in line for omelets cooked with bottled gas, sip cocktails, nibble cheese and stampede the tables reserved for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland, looking for autographs.
The first balletomane to reach Kirkland and get her signature was unable to retrieve her ball point in the crush around the table. "She'll be signing autographs all night with my pen." she boasted to a friend as the eddies of the human whirlpool in the atrium dragged her away.
Before the principal came upstairs to the atrium, they were greeted back-stage by the Carters, where Baryshunkov and Kirkland, surrounded by entire corps de ballet, received them amidst petals from the bouquets sent by adorning fans.
With a little help from the Secret Service, the Carter party got back-stage so soon that Baryshnikov and Kirkland skipped their final curtain call to accept the president's greeting.
"Mr.President, it's a great honor," said Baryshnikov, visibly overcome by the Carter's visit.
"You honored us, it was gelightful," Carter replied. "You can tell because the audience won't leave."
Baryshnikov confided that he had been nervous, and the president expressed some surprise at that, but assured him that he had "a hit" on his hands.
Carter had a kiss for Kirkland, and there were handshakes and congratulation all around from others in the presidential party, including Mrs Carter and Sens. Edmund S. Muskie (D Maine). Walter Huddleston (D-Ky.) and Thomas McIntyre (D-N.H.) and their wives.
Baryshnikiv was reminded at the party that in addition to Thursday's accompolishment, he is a candidate for an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in the movie, "A Turning Point." Told that some oddsmakers now consider him to be the favorite, he pondered the notion sipping a Heinekens, and said, "I still don't think so. But when you don't think so and it happen it makes it all the better."
He seemed to be continuing to talk about it but the horde of possibly several hundred ballet groupies, who were pushing, shoving and, in one or two cases, tackling, to get his autograph, shoved him out of earshot.
The company's codirector, Lucia Chase, said that an Oscar for a ballet star would be "an extraordinarily beneficial thing for ballet, but the very fact that he was nominated is probably going to produce enormous benefits. I still can't believe it. But I swear that if he wins it, he deserves it."
Chase, who has guided American Ballet Theatre for almost four decades, saie, "He's the best pro I have ever known."
Chase continued, "It's hard also to overestimate the effect on the company [long regarded as one of the world's finest] of having the President and Mrs.Carter come tonight. Most of us had never met him before, and he went around shaking as many hands as he possibly could. The dancers were literally trying to stand on top of each other to get to him."
Baryshnikov's film was the subject of discussion by some fans at the buffet that precceded the performance. With waiting lines at the two bars that lasted for 20 minutes or more, they had plenty of time to strike up acquaintances and engage in conversation.
Fortas, a Kennedy Center trustee who was visibly and audibly upset by the buffet arrangments, has been waiting in other lines recently, too. "We tried twice to get into Baryshnikov's move," he said. His wife added, "It was sold out both Times. We never go to the movies after 6 in Washington because of the conditions in restaurants in his town. You can't get a decent meal here after a late movie."
He couldn't get a decent buffet before Thursday's ballet, either. The shishkebab ran out just before his part of the line got to the table - a waiter mysteriously appeared and disappeared with the last two pieces, although a few steak tartare sandwiches were still left. Raw hamburger is an acquired taste.
Lee Radziwill, too, stood in line hoping for a small drink and nonexistent hors d'oeuvres.
"Did you get your vodka?" her escort, Peter Tufo, asked as she walked away from the bar. "No, they were all out," she replied. Holders of $100 tickets had paid an additional $10 for the Pre-preformance buffet.
A good many of the guests looked at long waiting line, the empty food table, the understaffed bar, and left immediately, among them Mr. and Mrs.David Lloyd Kreeger. "Let's go," Mrs. Kreeger said, taking her husband by the arm. "I'm furious. We're going to the right party." Many of the patrons went to the Golden Circle, a private club at the Kennedy Center maintained for people who make large contributions.
Janet Auchincloss, a cochairwoman of the event and Radziwill's mother, answered protests about the shortage of food by remarking that people "didn't have to stuff themselves."
She said the problem was that no food currnetly being served at the Kennedy Center and the committee could not provide hot food until after the performance.