HomeSportsNell Nolan; Ballet Triple Crown, American Italian Sports Gala, Children's Rights

Nell Nolan; Ballet Triple Crown, American Italian Sports Gala, Children’s Rights


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Terpsichorean Trifecta

Three was the celebrated number for the New Orleans Ballet Association, which instead of one singular sensation, trebled that. An event occurred each month in a three-month succession that Gerri Valene named Triple Crown. The three-tier events, within the overall package, celebrated the Main Stage season artists and a NOBA luminary.

To launch the levity, and as part of the sponsorship packages, the ballet association and the Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) had an exclusive reception with dignitaries and artists from Spain’s Compaňia Nacional de Danza. A VIP pre-reception with Spanish wines and tapas took place in the Pontalba apartment of Glen and event chair Marilyn Smith, where Julio y Cesar played on the balcony before leading a second line to The Cabildo. There, Laura Arrowood Catering presented a Spain-inspired menu. The program speakers included Lisa Alexis and Alana Harris (the city’s Office of Cultural Economy), City Council member Freddie King, Honorary Consul of Spain Maria Isabel Page, Julio Guichard (Office of Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser) and Rosine Pema Sanga, Office of the Mayor, Director of International Relations.

Among the attractions were artists from the Compaňia Nacional de Danza, artistic director Joaquin de Luz, and a welcoming trio in period dress: Kathy Singleton (Baroness Pontalba) and Center for Dance alumnae Chloe Roberts and Donovan Davis.

The next month, deluxe dining in the Windsor Court Hotel’s La Chinoiserie was the draw. BRAVO and Benefactor Dinner Chairs Gregory Curtis and Chad Berg requested the pleasure of one’s company for A Joyous Tribute to the 2009 “Mais oui … C’est Marie!” Marie Antoinette Ball to celebrate Charlotte Bollinger, who chaired that ball 15 years ago. Prior to the delights of executive chef Vlad Kogan’s three-course menu, harpist Rachel Van Voorhees and a classical trio entertained in Le Salon. Dunn and Sonnier Antiques and Florals designed the dinner’s colorful centerpieces to complement the “Marie” theme; and a live, Matt Rinard-led auction produced Murray Valene, Karl Senner and Ryan Berger (with wives Gerri, Bridget and Amanda) as the top bidders on the three coveted packages. Among those paying tribute to Charlotte, a former board chair, were her brother, Boysie Bollinger with spouse Joy, Gayle Benson, and Ralph and Ashley Mahana.

For the thrills of the third month, Laurie Guimont, BRAVO president, and event chair Valarie Grubb (along with NOBA and BRAVO) were cast as mastheaders for an extraordinary evening with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and “LAC,” a contemporary version of “Swan Lake. Jean-Christophe Maillot is the company’s artistic director. A 6:15 p.m. reception occurred in the lobby of the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts. At 7 p.m. the theater’s curtain opened and attendees – who were gussied up in black and white cocktail attire with feathers (remember, “Swan Lake”) – watched the preparation for the performance, which started a half hour later. After all was seen and danced, and “Bravo” voiced with gusto, Champagne and desserts with the artists awaited in the lobby. Sandra Herman sponsored the jazz trio

Noted then, with many having attended the two previous events, were Pamela and Warner Williams, Premier Platinum Presenters along with the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, Windsor Court, Lee Michaels and Hyatt Regency and its 1718 catering and events. They mingled with BRAVO President-elect Marian Gibbs, Steve and Bethany Friedman, Joel and Sandra Stage Chaisson, Elizabeth Ellison-Frost, Cathy Green, Stephanie and Ryan Burks, Tiffany Taffaro, NOBA executive director Jenny R. Hamilton and a host of others who found the Triple Crown a fine fit.

The Name is Fame

Mackie Shilstone garnered encomiums as the National Honoree during the 38th Louisiana American Italian Sports Hall of Fame Gala in the Hilton Riverside Hotel. One of this country’s “most influential fitness, wellness and sports performance experts,” he has worked with more than 3,000 professional athletes (Serena Williams, Peyton Manning, Michael Spinks, etc.) over the past 43 years. He holds MA and MBA degrees and has scripted seven books.

After cocktails and a scope of the silent auction, Frank Maselli opened a program that also featured emcee Devin Bartolotta for the scholarship and award presentations; Sophia Parigi, the national anthem; and the Rev. Joe Palermo, the invocation and benediction. Additional awardees were Dr. Marc Matrana, Barry Kern, Marianna Gatto, Marcia Kavanaugh, and Frank Mannino (Frankie Mann) for their respective medical, civic, museum (Italian American Museum of Los Angeles), media and entertainment profiles. C.O. Brocato, Paul Mainieri and Glen Cecchini, renowned coaches, were the Hall of Fame inductees. More limelight tapped scholarship award recipients from around the state: Edwin Perrault, Jackson Silmon, Cameron Gandolfi, Olivia Lamonte, Olivia Montecino and Isabelle Chevalier.

The Italian flag colors of red, white and green were incorporated in the lighting, donated flowers from Federico’s Family Florist, table linens, and Italian cream king cake given by Brocato’s that capped the menu of salad and filet mignon. Among the dozens enjoying the dinner and camaraderie were Milo Mannino, Rose Brocato, Sam Scelfo, members of gala organizer the American Italian Cultural Center, and representatives of the event’s 55 generous donors. Music also added to the momentum with a focus on singer Sophia Parigi and, as special guests, Rapuzzi’s Glo Worm Trio.


Just a few doors away from the birthplace of LCCR, the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, is The Building on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. There, within a space infused with vibrant African American art, was the center’s Celebration for Children’s Rights. Kristen Rome is the executive director.

The award ceremony was a highlight. The Pascal Calogero Champion of Justice Award laureled Ubuntu Village for its work “helping families advocate for themselves in New Orleans’ juvenile legal system,” while Milbank LLP received the Distinguished Pro Bono Partner Award. On behalf of each, Ernest Johnson, UV founder and executive director, and Tony Cassino, the law firm’s pro bono counsel, accepted the awards.

The raffle drew a crowd and produced winners: Mary Moran for a four-person dinner by James Beard Award semifinalist chef Melissa Araujo at her Alma Cafe; Diana Turner, a whiskey tasting for 12 with Steve Wilshire (Heaven Hill Brands); and Lee Reisman, a $200 Botanical Nail & Skin Studio gift certificate.

Aroma Catering, with such tasty dishes as duck empanadas, meat pies and chicken and beef satay, fed the flock of 220 that included state Sen. Royce Duplessis and wife Krystle Ferbos, LCCR board chair Ava Rogers, and host committee members Miles Thomas with Rebecca, Tiye and Qasim Davis, Philip D. Lorio IV with Megan, Will Snowden, Sean Fisher with Diana, and Brett Perrier. Also, George and Sarah Young, Jackie and Bruce Shreves, Christina and John Fay, and development director Ryan Hill, who was more than gratified by the funds raised for Children’s Rights: $101,000. “Our first time cracking the $100K mark ever.”

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