Some of the university’s most generous donors gathered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts January 29 for a reception celebrating their support of GW before the D.C. premiere of American Ballet Theatre’s Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Former professional ballet dancer Irina Wunder, director of evening and pre-professional programs in GW’s Department of Theatre and Dance, spoke about the origins of the performance, a classical production which features original 1890 choreography, lavish costumes, and intricate sets under the direction of American Ballet Theatre Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky. That evening’s performance was one of only two in the District that included Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.
Reciting the “Andrew Carnegie Dictum”—which says to spend the last third of one’s life giving away money to worthy causes—Ms. Wunder said she believes that making and performing art is a kind of philanthropy.
“When we teach excellence through art and dance, that’s more than enough to give away,” she said. “I find that very exciting, and I find it exciting to teach to our students.”
Ms. Wunder also highlighted the educational partnership between GW and the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C., for senior and pre-professional students at the academy. Dancers often must either pause or forgo higher education to pursue careers in ballet, so the program allows academy dancers to enroll as non-degree students at GW, receive instruction from GW faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance, and receive college credits that can be later applied to a degree. Kirov Academy students Madeleine Paulter and Emerson Moose attended the reception and offered brief remarks about the success of the program.
Guests included members of the Heritage Society and the George Washington Society, which recognizes alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations that cumulatively have given $100,000 or more in support of the university.
GW Trustees Madeline Jacobs, BS ’68, HON ’03, and Jay E. Katzen, BA ’67, MD, ’72; Trustee Emeritus Mark V. Hughes, CCAS B.A. ’69, SEAS M.S. ’77; and Dr. Young-Key Kim-Renaud, former chair of GW’s East Asian Languages and Literatures Department, were among the guests in attendance.
Ms. Jacobs said she attended the event because she always enjoys the opportunity to spend time with faculty, students, and fellow GW supporters and community members, including her guest Amy Henderson, a board member of the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum.
“It’s always exciting to see what the university is doing to integrate the cultural life of Washington with the activities at the university,” she said. “It’s great for the students and it’s great for alumnae like myself.”
At the reception, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Aristide J. Collins, Jr., announced that Making History: The Campaign for GW has raised more than $830 million toward its $1 billion goal. He thanked the donors in the room for their commitment to the Campaign and to GW.
“Your support and leadership are vital to the continued achievement of our great university,” he said. “This reception and tonight’s performance is an opportunity to celebrate all of you who have made the Making History campaign such a rousing success. By supporting GW, your generosity provides opportunities for our students and faculty to do amazing things and to make history.”