The Place: The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown.
The Party: At this 45th anniversary gala for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Michael and Janet Trapuzzano and other partygoers popped into the theater Thursday for the PBT’s dress rehearsal of “La Bayadère” while others — Steve and Peggy McKnight, Joel and Mia Bernard, John and Susan Block, and David Bush and Tim McVay — mingled in the lobby with cocktails and nibbles courtesy of the Duquesne Club.
“I’m in awe of the dancers’ ability to be acrobatic as well as beautiful,” said patron Steve Webster. Executive director Harris Ferris said: “It is wonderful to honor those tonight who helped create such an illustrious past, a vibrant present and a visionary future.”
Honoree Loti Falk Gaffney, founding board president who is 91 years old, could not make the event, but her granddaughter, Celia Gerard, accepted the award on her behalf. She shared stories of her grandmother’s commitment to the arts and family, remembering how she helped her grandchildren put on a summer production each year.
Nicolas Petrov, founding artistic director, was also honored. “Without Loti, there would be no ballet,” said Mr. Petrov. “It took us almost a half of a century to get here … but it warms me to see that the public loves what we do.”
As 230 guests were seated on the Benedum stage at tables decorated with joyful linens from Mosaic Inc. and whimsical floral arrangements by Carmel Vandale of Mt. Lebanon Floral, guest Claire Hosteny, who attended with husband Joe, joked that she “hoped the stage would hold us!”
To honor both awardees, famed PBT costume designer Janet Groom Campbell created tapestries featuring pieces of costumes from the era of Mr. Petrov and Mrs. Falk Gaffney. “This is a tribute to them, so they can touch those memories,” she said.
The Purpose: The PBT announced a $20 million campaign that will include a major expansion of the PBT School and campus, including a building named after campaign co-chairs William and Carolyn Byham. “I am in awe of the number of friends the ballet has, and we are so proud to support what is being done,” said Ms. Byham.