The absolute best event of the Season in NYC with this epic menu of entertainment, elite guests, and the most beautiful venue city has to offer. Winter is the season to see and to be seen in NYC, and Petrushka Ball is an ultimate Winter Wonderland to attend.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, attending a Gala event was the last thing on everyone’s minds. But things are back in business these days. Our iconic museums, big attractions, and favorite restaurants are back (with a few new rules, of course), but the city’s cultural life has been reborn.
After a year’s pause, New York’s premier Black-Tie event of the social calendar is back. The 56th Petroushka Ball is scheduled on Friday, February 11, 2022, at The Plaza Hotel. The Annual Petroushka Ball supports a great cause, benefiting the Russian Children’s Welfare Society (RCWS) charitable programs.
The “Petroushka” Ball’s name came from old Russia. Petroushka was one of the most popular puppet theater characters, no matter his misfortune, he always bounced back. Igor Stavinsky, Michael Fokine and Alexandre Benois created the masterpiece ballet “Petroushka”, featuring the luckless but undefeated Petroushka who had fallen in love with a graceful ballerina.
The Petroushka Ball was started in1965 as an expansion of a small tea dance that was hosted by a group of members of the Society. The late Helen Basilevsky (granddaughter of White Guards General Pyotr Wrangel), who was a member of the Ball first Junior Committee, designed the “Petroushka” logo which is still used on the event invitations, Ball journals and featured on @PetroushkaBall Instagram page.
In late 60s and early 70s, the Petroushka Ball was held under the patronage of H.H. Princess Vera of Russia, the last member of the Romanov dynasty who was born in Russia. Princess Vera Constantinovna of Russia (1906-2001), a great-granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and the youngest child of Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia, was born in Imperial Russia and was a childhood playmate of Nicholas II’s younger children. At the age of twelve she escaped revolutionary Russia and spent the rest of her life in exile, first in Europe and later in the United States. From 1952 until 1969, Princess Vera was working as a volunteer at the RCWS, assisting with day-to-day activities of the organization.
The very First Petroushka Ball was held at the no longer in existence Delmonico Hotel. Due to the overwhelming success of the first Ball it moved to the Plaza Hotel. Over the years, the Petroushka Ball has become one of New York most vibrant and anticipated annual events, attracting 700+ dinner and dancing guests.
“Many years ago, in 1966 be exact, I was called by Dr. Igor Holodny the Chairman of the Society asking if I would be the chairperson of the Petroushka Ball, the most important annual event, for not only raising funds but making people aware of the charity and its mission to orphaned and disadvantaged Russian children. I was of course thrilled and honored at the invitation, helped to organize, and attended the Annual Petroushka Ball for years, being married to a Russian American, myself I am not Russian. After chairing the Ball, I was invited to be on the RCWS Board – another true honor. When my husband Vladimir (Wally) Fekula retired from Wall Street, he joined the RCWS Board and soon after became the President. Upon his death, I was voted by the Board to be the President. With my dedication of so many years to the charity, RCWS mission means a great deal to me and I hope after you get to know us and all the charitable work we do, you will join our community. Together we are a powerful force.” – Beatrice Fekula, who is the current President of the RCWS, recalls.
Past Petroushka Ball events have featured leading soloists of the Metropolitan Opera, the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Theater, and Broadway Musical productions. Among the opera stars who appeared at the Petroushka Ball by kind permission of the Metropolitan Opera are Anna Netrebko, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Elena Obraztsova, Ildar Abdrazakov, Elina Garanca, Matthew Polenzani, Nadine Sierra, Diana Damrau, Piotr Beszala, Kristine Opolais, Francesco Demuro, Olga Borodina, Rolando Villazon, Brandon Jovanovich, Kate Lindzey, Rodion Pogossov, Oksana Dyka, Paul Groves, Serena Malfi, Ben Bliss, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Sergey Semishkur, Lyubov Petrova, Maia Kovalevska and others.
One of the Petroushka Ball unique features is two distinguished orchestras – The Lester Lanin Orchestra in the Grand Ballroom coupled with the Barynya Balalaika Orchestra in the Terrace Room. The Lester Lanin Orchestra has played at the Petroushka Ball for more than five decades. Lester Lanin brought dance music to several generations, playing at events from the White House to Buckingham Palace. The Lester Lanin Orchestra played music for Grace Kelly’s engagement party and at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Following dinner at the upcoming Petroushka Ball, the world-renowned Lester Lanin Orchestra will be playing in the Grand Ballroom. At the Terrace Room the Barynya Balalaika Orchestra will perform a boisterous set of popular Slavic folk and gypsy music, Cossack songs, and lively balalaika arrangements to the early hours of the morning. All guests are invited to dance in the Grand Ballroom and the Terrace Room.
As for the organization hosting the Ball, the Society was established in 1926 in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution by a group of noble émigrés who fled to New York and devoted their lives to helping disadvantaged children. All net proceeds from the Petroushka Ball go directly towards the RCWS charitable programs. Among them are educational scholarships for orphans (currently over 190 students), medical treatment for children with severe facial deformities (annually over 200 little patients receive surgeries), assistance to orphanages, rehabilitation programs for children with special needs, and other vital programs. In spring 2020, RCWS established the COVID-19 Russia Relief Fund to help save doctors treating the infected patients and equip hospitals with critically needed protective gear. Since the beginning of pandemic, RCWS sponsored 10 requests from regional hospitals in Russia, awarding a total of $67,057.
For 20 years, the RCWS has been sponsoring and organizing an annual Yelka celebration in Moscow for over 1,000 disadvantaged children. In December 2020 and 2021, the charity was unable to host such an event due to COVID-19. Last year, the RCWS team delivered Christmas gifts to over 2,580 children from 20 organizations in different regions. This December, RCWS is planning to deliver holiday gifts to over 3,000 disadvantaged children.
“Each year the Ball has a different theme, inspired by fairytales, history, Slavic folklore and heritage. From Firebird, Snegurochka, Troika, Fabergé, Tiara to Russian countryside, just to name some of the recent themes of the event. Petroushka Ball invitation covers, designed for many years by artist and illustrator Dimitry Schidlovsky, feature Petroushka character and highlight the theme of the Ball. Annual Petroushka Ball is our main fundraising event and it is also an unforgettable experience for our guests. We are proud to say that it is a very elegant event and we maintain a strict dress code: White or Black Tie for gentlemen and Long Ball Gowns for the ladies.” – Says Anna Sergeeva, Director of RCWS New York office and key organizer of the Annual Petroushka Ball.
I would also like to highlight our talented fashion designer, Alex Teih, as I have been very fortunate to wear his couture gowns, which he custom designs for me especially for this fabulous event.
Alex Teih, originally from Ukraine and he is based in New York, has been creating the most amazing gowns, dressing many opera stars performing at the Petroushka Ball. To complete the magical look and help us all dazzle at the Ball, Alex Solgier provides the enchanting jewelry, also handcrafted in NYC.
We have very active Young Patron’s Ball Committee, helping our small team to organize and make the Petroushka Ball a success. We are happy to see more and more young supporters among the guests and sponsors of the Ball.
The annual Petroushka Ball traditionally includes a Raffle with wonderful prizes and a group of children in Slavic costumes assisting with selling the raffle tickets.
The highlights of the Petroushka Ball are the powerful and moving performances of the Metropolitan Opera stars; seeing so many elegant and beautiful guests; and, of course, the vibrant folk dancing till 2 in the morning.
There are several ways that the readers of the INLOVE magazine could get involved, support RCWS’ charitable programs and be a part of the Petroushka Ball legacy: by purchasing tickets to the Ball, placing advertisements in the Petroushka Ball journal, supplying raffle prizes or products for event gift bags, or by generously donating to RCWS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
The more funds we could raise during the Ball, the more children we are able to help. RCWS channels 100% of donations to help children at risk with our administrative costs completely covered through internal sources.
Please help us to continue the RCWS charitable work by dancing the night away on February 11, 2022. Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 is required to attend the upcoming Petroushka Ball.
For more information about the 56th Petroushka Ball, please visit www.rcws.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
56th Petroushka Ball journal cover designed by Dimitry Schidlovsky
Young volunteers selling raffle tickets at the Petroushka Ball. Photo by Maike Schulz
Aleksandra Efimova, CEO of RP Group International and Anna Sergeeva, RCWS. Photo by Maike Schulz
Beatrice Fekula, President of RCWS. Photo by Maike Schulz
Petroushka Ball dinner guests at the Plaza’s Grand Ballroom. Photo by Maike Schulz
Anna Sergeeva, model Anabela Belikova, fashion designer Dmitry Sholokhov, model Vlada Roslyakova, bass Ildar Abdrazakov, soprano Lyubov Petrova, model Valentina Zelyaeva, model Katia Kokoreva. Photo by Maike Schulz
Soprano Anna Netrebko starring at the 48th Petroushka Ball. Photo by Maike Schulz
Anna Sergeeva, RCWS. Dress: Alex Teih Couture. Photo by Roman Makhmutov