Washington Ballet Gala Chair's Favorite Color Serves as Party Theme
Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom and his wife, Eva, opened the doors to their official residence in Northwest Washington on Thursday night and welcomed more than 500 guests for the Washington Ballet’s annual spring gala. This year’s event, dubbed the "Purple Rain Ball,” was inspired by gala chair Ann Walker Marchant’s love of the color.
Event planner André Wells, who produced the evening, was tasked not only with creating an entire event based on the color purple but also hosting it in an official residence. “We wanted to create an elegant spring evening event without losing that personal feel of someone’s residence,” Wells said.
To accomplish that, Capital Party Rentals supplied three tents on the back lawn, the largest being a 60- by 150-foot elevated marquee that housed the dinner and dancing and took on the feel of an residential dining space with windowed sidewalls and a draped ceiling. When it came to incorporating the color, Wells worked closely with the gala chair Marchant and her assistant, Almina Khorakiwala, to bring in purple in all its forms. In the end, nearly every shade of the color was featured, in everything from the invitations and tabletops to lighting and drinks.
To pay tribute to its official hosts, Swedish influences were prevalent throughout the evening, beginning with the Absolut vodka bar, where guests chose from several different flavored vodkas and a variety of mixers. Wells also brought in acclaimed local mixologist Gina Chersevani to craft speciality cocktails. RSVP Catering highlighted the Swedish heritage in its four-course menu that included hot smoked gravlax and spring asparagus soup, lavender and rosemary crusted lamb chops with Swedish-style rhubarb chutney, and icy lemon soufflé with lingonberry sauce.
As is the tradition at the annual gala, dancers from the Washington Ballet were on hand to perform several selections from the current season after guests finished their first course. But Washington Ballet artistic director Septime Webre also had a surprise for guests this year: a choreographed piece to "When Doves Cry" from Prince’s Purple Rain that was dedicated to gala chair Marchant.
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