“Madder music and stronger wine”

by Editorial


Washington’s Russian Ball, following the old Julian calendar with New Year’s later than for the rest of us, had all the usual features we expect of this rollicking annual: Sydney’s Orchestra for dancing, the Washington Balalaika Society, and the wild Russian dancers doing the “sitting–down-with folded-arms-dance,” or, the Kazaki – named for the Cossacks who dance it. The Traxler waltz group brought a return to momentary decorum – as befit the formally-clad guests arrayed in white or black tie with decorations. Their titles harken back to Old Russia: Princess Selene Obolensky, and the ball chairmen, Georgian Prince David Chavchavadze, and Princess Eugenie. Others were Princess Marina Poutiatine, Prince Gregory Gagarin and Princess Ann Elizabeth, Selene’s daughter Princess Sophie and her sibs Prince Dimitri Obolensky and his wife Princess Teresa, and Princess Obolensky and husband Hon. Charles Leatham, in from London. Seen: Viscountess Gertrude d’Amecourt, Prof. Vladimir and Milena Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, Raisa Scriabine (grandniece of the famed composer), Louis and Vera Emmerij, Vicky Doyle, Gary and Rose O’Neal Akin, Renée and Wallace Robinson, and Xenia Woyevodsky. A midnight champagne toast to 2008’s Julian New Year (though it was almost mid-January) led to another round of dancing, presided over by honorary patrons, Yuri Ushakov, the Russian ambassador, and Svetlana Ushakova, who love a party, too.


One of this writer’s favorite parts of the Red Cross Ball is the yearly trip down and back with the ambassadors – aboard Donald Trump’s plane. It is a Boeing 727 designed to hold 128, which he has had reconfigured to hold 23 happy passengers amidst the comfortable upholstery, mahogany paneling, gold-plated bathroom fixtures, and oil paintings. As Mike Donovan – Trump’s pilot of 17 years – guided the big bird down gently, the energetic ambassador of Malaysia, Dr. Rajmah Hussain, urged me to share the cockpit jump seat with her (luckily, she is tiny). We literally had a bird’s eye view of Washington as we returned to earth.


Eloise, that lovable, literary imp who wrought havoc at New York’s Plaza Hotel, recently came to Washington in spirit. Created by the sophisticated song stylist Kay Thompson, Eloise’s charm was also captured by book series illustrator, Hilary Knight. Knight was here last month, shepherded by Ann Townsend, the founding president of the Trust for Museum Exhibitions. The mother-daughter tea at the Willard Intercontinental benefited the Trust and Reading is Fundamental foundation…. Pretty Sara Daneshpour, the competition-winning young Iranian pianist and D.C. native who has been getting rave reviews since age 13 for her powerful performances, is coming to Strathmore Hall on March 27 as part of their Mansion Series. She is a protégé of Young Concert Artists, headed here by Gilan Tocco Corn, who brings us many outstanding musicians.

If there is an advance event Around Town should know about, please email columnists@vps3.washingtonlife.com.

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