Ballet Scraps Winter Dance Party, Adds 200 More Guests to Fall Soiree

By D. Channing Muller October 8, 2012, 4:54 PM EDT

Digital Lightning washed the venue in shades of red lighting with gobos of bats on the ceiling.

Photo: Tony Brown/ for BizBash

Washington Ballet's Dracula Soiree
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The Washington Ballet’s Women’s Committee hosted its annual fall soirée on Friday night with a chic Dracula-inspired party for 500—200 more people than last year’s Gatsby-themed affair—at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The gala serves as the first of five annual events during the ballet season, but organizers decided to pare that number down to four this year, cutting the Jeté Society of young professional’s annual dance party in January, and instead combining it with the soirée.

“We wanted to grow this event into something bigger, so we’re really pumping the Jeté society’s outreach and efforts into the soirée,” said Liz Sizer, the ballet’s manager of special events.

To make the event a draw for a younger crowd, the Women’s Committee offered a special $150 Jeté ticket in addition to its standard $250 V.I.P. and $200 general admission offerings. The combined outreach efforts and new pricing structure resulted in attendance upward of 500 guests.

The group also changed venues this year from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2011. Sizer searched for a space for the live auction that would keep people engaged within the cocktail-style format. “Last year’s event was compartmentalized from room to room, and I wanted something large and open with one big space,” said Sizer. “The museum is like a theater in the round in that no matter what level you are on you can see what is going on.” The venue change resulted in $15,000 being raised—about $5,000 less than last year's total due to lower-valued items—from the auction hosted by 97.4’s Tommy McFly and Kelly Collis. Despite the lower amount, Sizer added that the crowd was more engaged this year with the round robin setup of the museum.

Syzygy Event Productions, the team behind the ballet’s spring Queen of Hearts Ball, worked with Occasions Caterers and Digital Lightning to turn the museum into a gothic Dracula lair inspired by the ballet’s first production of the season. The crew utilized blood-red linens and lighting alongside black furniture, floral arrangements, and candelabras to decorate the all-white space. Local DJs, Blurry Vision and EZGruuv, captured the energy of the Jeté dance party post-auction for dancing until nearly 1 a.m.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct dollar difference in the live auction from 2011 to this year.)

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