YoungArts 35th Anniversary Backyard Ball Gala
Benefiting National YoungArts Foundation
The National YoungArts Foundation kicked-off its 35th anniversary with the organization’s annual Backyard Ball Gala, presented by Italian luxury brand Max Mara and hosted by co-chairs Tracey and Bruce Berkowitz and Margarita and Armando Codina, and 35th Anniversary Committee Chairperson Sarah Arison to honor director and actress Rosie Perez, director Robert Wilson and YoungArts Master Teacher and 1997 YoungArts Winner in Theater Tony Yazbeck with Arison Awards.
The elegant event, which welcomed more than 700 guests, raised more than $1.6M to directly support the organization’s contributions to the artistic development of young artists from around the nation, and marked the culmination of National YoungArts Week. The evening was emceed by Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer and director, YoungArts Alumnus Billy Porter and brought together prominent artists, community leaders, philanthropists and celebrities: Max Mara US Director of Retail Maria Giulia Maramotti; L.A. Music Center’s newly appointed president Rachel Moore (1982 Winner in Dance); Pritzker Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid; Alex Blavatnik; Monica Kalpakian; Marvin Ross Friedman and Adrienne bon Haes; Michael Margulies; Daniel Novela; Tony and Ximena Cho; Sylvia Cubina; Adriana Cisneros and Nick Griffin; Susanne Birbragher; George Lindemann; Franklin Sirmans; Kristy Edmunds; Robert Lynch; Alex Gartenfeld; Michael Kaiser and more. Maria Giulia Maramotti was dressed in Max Mara as were co-chair Tracey Berkowitz, Lydia Pinnell, Stacey Galbut, Erin Newberg, Angela Birdman and Diane Lieberman.
The elegant black-tie reception and seated dinner by STARR Catering Group was conceived with an intimate backyard garden theme. Throughout the night, performance vignettes directed by Yazbeck featured YoungArts alumni, including Desmond Richardson (1986 Winner in Dance and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Dave Eggar (1987 Winner in Music and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), India Carney (2011 Winner in Theater, Voice and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Andrew Nemr (1997 Winner in Dance), Jake Goldbas (2007 Winner in Jazz), Pascal Le Boeuf (2004 Winner in Jazz and Music), Riley O’Flynn (2014 Winner in Dance), Anne Malin Ringwalt (2013 Winner in Writing), and Anais Perez (2015 Winner in Visual Arts).
Performance highlights included India Carney singing a medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Roar;” a tap and cello duet between Andrew Nemr and Dave Eggar that celebrated their mentors and received a standing ovation; a duet about the battle between technology and personal interaction with Riley O’Flynn and Desmond Richardson; and all of the 2016 YoungArts Finalists singing “I Celebrate” with the full cast. The evening concluded with the Backyard Bash, where guests enjoyed dessert and danced under the stars to music by DJ Cassidy.
In addition to presenting the Backyard Ball for the second consecutive year, Max Mara inaugurated the Max Mara Young Visionary Award—an accolade reserved for an exceptional YoungArts Week Finalist at the highest financial reward level of $10,000. Presented every year for the next three years, the award aims to further encourage young artists to pursue their dreams. The inaugural recipient will be announced at a later date.
Additional support for the Backyard Ball was provided by EventStar Structures, Bacardi, Braman Motors, Miami Herald, MIAMI Magazine, and Seabourn.