The Washington Ballet gave a fine performance last night. But it wasn't the usual plie' and pas de deux fare.
Instead, it served up a $75-a-ticket four-floor circus complete with clowns, popcorn, hot dogs, Wiener schnitzel and waltzes at Mazza Gallerie, the shiny, sprawling mall on Wisconsin Avenue.
Named "The Carnival Vienna," the evening was alive with the sounds of an orchestra devoted to the works of Austrian composers. It provided background music for about 500 guests dressed in black, white or gold, in keeping with the Viennese theme as specified on the invitation.
And the Washington Ballet danced to reap the profits from the snazzy show, while Mazza Gallerie footed the "well over $20,000" bill it cost to put it on, according to Mary Ann Lundgren, who works with both the Washington Ballet Women's Committee and the Neiman-Marcus public relations department.
The party was her idea. It served to show off the mall's new Viennese-inspired redecoration, to exhibit a "Wiener Werkstaetter" early modern Austrian collection imported from New York and to raise some money for the ballet.
"Whatever we get goes right to the bank," said P.J. Bolle, a ballet board member. She stood at the top of the escalator on the third floor of the mall, greeting guests who were ushered there for the early-evening fancy hors d'oeuvres.
Bob Ryan, WRC-TV's evening and late-night weatherman, waited in line at the bar.
"I have to leave around 9:30. But there's a shower right near our new set," so he can change out of his formal duds. Ryan said the many parties he manages to attend provide a "nice intermission" between his telecasts.
"You're taller in person," said an elderly fan who recognized him. "It's those big maps," Ryan said, turning on a broadcaster's grin.
Choo San Goh, the ballet's choreographer, also stood in line for a drink; he was dressed in white tie, tails and white bucks.
He was dressed to perform for the main event, when ballerinas and board members paired up for a waltz down the escalators from floor three to one.
"This is my comeback," Goh said, because he hadn't danced in six years. "Don't laugh."
But when the dancers finally waltzed their way through the second-floor vendors to the main floor, where a buffet dinner was being served, people did laugh, in enjoyment.
Standing near Austrian Ambassador Thomas Klestil was Victor Shargai, emcee for the night, board member and designer-about-town, who didn't miss a step of the performance. He had been skeptical about artistic director Mary Day's idea of the escalator dance. But it seemed to be a success.
"I liked it," Shargai said. "I thought it was kind of campy."