"She losing her voice, you know," confided Alan McKerrow, father of Amanda McKerrow, the 17-year-old Rockville ballerina who won the gold medal in the International Ballet Competition in Moscow last week. "I think it's from all the interviews." Balancing a plate loaded with Alaskan king crab claws and shrimp, McKerrow, who accompanied his daughter to Moscow with his wife, Constance, and daughter Melissa, said, "We loved Russia, of course, but the food is much better here. I lost 10 pounds while I was there, but I don't know if it was the food or the excitement."
About 100 Amanda admirers, mostly friends and supporters of the Washington Ballet, shared his enthusiasm as they gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown last night to applaud the achievements and murmur fervently, "We're so proud," to the shy ballerina, her award-winning partner Simon Dow, and Washington Ballet artistic director Mary Day.
"We didn't have the Olympics, and this makes up for it," exulted Jeanann Petrus, who is on the board of the Washington Ballet. "And she's not just an American, she's ours -- she's from Washington."
Malan Strong, wife of Henry Strong, a vice trustee of the Kennedy Center, confided, "I taught Hank to love ballet -- he's practically an aficionado now. But we never thought we'd see the day when America would react this way to the ballet. It just goes to show we have more knowledgeable people in the arts than people think."
McKerrow, in a simple white dress, and Dow, wearing white jacket, beige string tie and black slacks, looked very much the perfect partners as they greeted well-wishers and sighing balletomanes at the door. "I'm just glad to be back home," McKerrow said. "Things are getting back to normal -- I've already had two days of ballet classes." Dow, an Australian, drew applause when he announced he had just received his "green card," allowing him to work in the U.S.
"There's nothing I could say that could show the excitement we felt in the middle of the night in Moscow," Mary Day told the crowd. Although the Washington Ballet's season resumes in September, Day said it was possible that McKerrow and Dow would dance together in a special summer performance.
Mayor Marion Barry was invited, but did not attend the reception. Millie Bautista, Barry's special assistant on the arts, gave McKerrow a kiss, in lieu of the mayor's gift, which she said she had forgotten to bring.
"She's got God's gift known as talent," summed up Patrick Hayes, executive director of the Washington Performing Arts Society. "She's just remarkable. When I heard the news, I wanted to be her grandfather."