Joffrey's spring gala notable for its little touches and big crowd

May 2, 2011
Shia K


The Joffrey Ballet raised $1.3 million at its annual spring gala, an event that drew 1,000 guests and was notable for its extra little flourishes.

    The weather cooperated for the Friday gala, but maybe anticipating the worst, organizers had arranged to greet guests with a glass of bubbly as they walked through the door of Roosevelt University.

    That and a free drink ticket with your $600 donation to attend had guests smiling as they entered the theater for a one-hour ballet performance.

    Guests were then spirited away to the Palmer House Hilton via Chicago Trolley Company buses. Once at the Palmer House, they were greeted by waiters with drinks along the gold carpet.

    Inside the ballroom, party co-chairs Courtney Thompson and Wendy Chronister were easily seen from their balcony perch as they helped auctioneer Leslie Hindman oversee the live auction — a seven-night journey in Bhutan that was purchased by board member Christine Long for $30,000.

    Guests came from every part of Chicago's social and cultural scene. J.B. Pritzker, the philanthropist and venture-capital guru, attended with his wife, M.K.; Johnson Publishing Chairman Linda Johnson Rice sat next to her good pal Neal Zucker, CEO of Corporate Cleaning window-cleaning company; the American Bar Assn.'s Laurel Bellows was there with Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal's Linda Harris; board chair Fred Eychaner; and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who earned a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet before eventually landing at Sarah Lawrence College.