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Fred And Adele Astaire Awards Committee Cocktail Party

Originally Posted: May 10, 2011

Edward Callaghan

Caroline and Charles Schuster and Alix Michel. (Edward Callaghan and T. van Wyck Cushny)

Water Mill - On Saturday April 30, longtime Fred and Adele Astaire Awards supporter Alix Michel hosted an elegant early evening cocktail and dinner at her Water Mill home for the Hamptons co-chairs, committee members and supporters of this year's awards, slated for May 15 at The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University.

Designer Berry Brown and artist Andrew Hart Adler. (Edward Callaghan and T. van Wyck Cushny)

Always the consummate hostess, Michel welcomed guests on the terrace of her lovely home thanks to the very mild weather. Set in one of the most picturesque locations with views of the Duck Walk Winery, its acres of vineyards to the right and the rising crystal palace - soon to be home to our treasured Parrish Art Museum - to the left, the view made one feel as if they were in Napa Valley.

Wait staff passes delectable hors d'oeuvres from acclaimed caterer Mark Fahrer which drew heavily on local sources. Tempting treats included Zucchini Cups with Wild Mushroom Royale, Persian Cucumbers Stuffed with Shrimp and Tarragon, Roquefort Grapes rolled in Walnuts, Foie Gras and Caramelized Pear on Herbs de Provence Croustade and Creamer Potatoes filled with Crème Fraiche and Ikura (Salmon Roe).

On hand were Executive Producer Patricia Watt (on crutches from a foot injury) Awards Gala Co-Chairs Bruce Michael and Carolyn Kendall Buchter and her husband Ronald Buchter, Clif de Raita, Associate Producer Bronwen Carson, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps with beau Jacques Azoulay, designer Berry Brown with her husband attorney Matt Rosen, writer JZ Holden with famed Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer, Nominating committee member Andy Sandberg and David Thompson, Dr. Matt Kaufman, Back Stage Magazine's Christina Nieto with her mom Carmen Grasso, composer, pianist and writer Andrew Wargo, Marge Muse and Linda Muse, Susan Burnside, Committee members Jacqueline Marks and Caroline Lieberman just back from another jaunt to India, Lizi Obolensky, artists Andrew Hart Adler and Dora Frost, Loretta De Rose, Susan Kelly, Linda Lee, Dr. Lewis Feder and scores more.

With everyone gathered in the spacious living room, Michael introduced Watt who quipped that with her crutches she was a "bad advertisement for a dance event" but went on to speak about her passion for the Awards which were founded in 1982 by her father Douglas Watt, the late esteemed drama critic and Mr. Astaire himself.

Then Associate producer Carson took center stage to speak about Ava Astaire and the Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts and the event's beneficiaries: the Dance Education program in public schools serving autistic and disabled children and the Adele Astaire Scholarship Fund for young dancers.

Carson then introduced dance therapist Nadeau who has spent the last year working with children through the dance education program who spoke movingly about the positive effects the movement program had on the children in bolstering their self confidence.

Following the remarks, guests moved on to the buffet and were thrilled to see a little surprise their hostess had for them - former "Top Chef" competitor Wayne Nish at the stove laying out dinner. Nish, famed for his critically acclaimed restaurant March in New York, has recently paired with Mark Fahrer for several special events.

Back Stage Newspaper's Cjristina Nieto and Carmen Grasso. (Edward Callaghan and T. van Wyck Cushny)

The pair had worked side by side on the menu and its execution. And what a menu it was - Caesar Salad, Corn, Orza, Basil, Tomato and Watercress Salad, Saddle of Colorado Lamb with Garlic Confit, Slow Baked Wild Salmon with Chinese Mustard, Roasted Rock Cornish Game Hen, White and Green Asparagus and Fresh Berries with Tia Maria Sabayon. Truly no one expected such a gastronomic feast from two renowned culinary wizards.

Over dinner there was much speculation about the nominations for the prestigious awards which were just announced this week, especially that a record breaking nine choreographers were nominated proving that Broadway, the fabulous Invalid was alive and well - at least when it comes to dynamic dance numbers. Designer Berry Brown informed the crowd that she had just come from Jill Lynn & Company's party celebrating its new Jobs Lane salon and that Brown's BB Jewels Gramercy Park Summer collection would launch there next month. The best news was imparted by Carson that super hot choreographer Benjamin Millepied nominated for "Black Swan" would be attending the awards.

2011 Fred and Adele Astaire Awards Honorary Chairs are Judith Jamison and Wendy Federman. Awards Gala Chairs are Carolyn Kendall Buchter, Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster and Bruce Michael. Producer is Patricia Watt. Co-Producer is Joe Lanteri, National Dance Alliance. Associate Producer is Bronwen Carson.

Director is Joe Lanteri. The Awards are presented by Ava Astaire and the Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts. The awards gala will benefit the Dance & Movement Therapy Programs in New York Public Schools and scholarships for dancers through National Dance Alliance.

This year's Awards will take place at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU on May 15. The Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is the premiere venue for the presentation of cultural and performing arts events for New York University and lower Manhattan. Led by executive producer Jay Oliva (President Emeritus, NYU) and senior director Michael Harrington, the programs of Skirball Center reflect NYU's mission as an international center of scholarship, defined by excellence and innovation and shaped by an intellectually rich and diverse environment. A vital aspect of the Center's mission is to build young adult audiences for the future of live performance.

For more information or advance ticket purchase for one of the entertainment industry's most electrifying evenings, the 2011 Fred & Adele Astaire Awards on May 15 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University go to www.theastaireawards.org.


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