Benefit Has Earth, Wind and Fire

March 3, 2004, 12:00 AM EST

Flame-costumed performers from Dance Trance stood at the base of Barosaurus skeleton in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda at the American Museum of Natural History's Winter Dance.

American Museum of Natural History's Winter Dance benefit American Museum of Natural History Thursday, 02.19.04, 7:30 PM to 12 AM
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Six hundred junior patrons of the American Museum of Natural History flocked to the museum for the annual Winter Dance, whose theme celebrated the elements fire, air, earth and water. Beth Balentine, the museum's assistant director of special events, coordinated the fund-raiser, with a theme selected to showcase the museum’s halls, including the newly renovated Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Joseph Abboud Company sponsored this year’s event.

EventCo Productions decorated different areas of the museum to reflect the four elements, with performers from Dance Trance adding to each area's look. The Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda was filled with red light, and the word “fire” was projected onto the walls. Statue-like performers, dressed in flame costumes, stood at the base of a gigantic Barosaurus skeleton. The most authentic-looking entertainer was dressed as a tree: His leaf-covered arms and twig-laden fingers welcomed guests into the “earth” realm in the Hall of Biodiversity.

Restaurant Associates served a tricolored salad of radicchio, endive and arugula and a truffled breast of chicken with apples, salsify and fresh herbs to the 300 dinner guests. EventCo covered tables in one section of the hall with river rocks, Spanish moss and leaf-wrapped votives to go along with the earth milieu, while towering centerpieces were filled with lichen, philodendron leaves, James Story orchids and bear and zebra grass.

The benefit ended in the Hall of Ocean Life, home to—you guessed it—the element of water. About 300 more guests arrived at 9 PM for cocktails and dessert—including flame- and earth-decorated cookies—in the newly renovated hall. The hall was filled with blue light and bubble and ripple lighting effects, while an 8- by 18-foot high-definition television screen played footage of sea turtles and sharks behind one of the three bars in the room. A silent auction in the rear of the hall featured luxury items such as Gucci handbags and Hermes jewelry—though the most popular item at the auction involved tickets to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue party. DJ Cassidy played a mix of hip-hop, disco and 80’s music while guests danced under the 94-foot suspended model of a blue whale. Less energetic guests rested on the all-white modern furniture provided by Maurice Villency.

Sara Neuffer

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