Benefit for Ballet


Photography by Doug Wells

LE BAL DE BALLET, the primary fundraiser for Denver Ballet Guild, recognizes outstanding youth

Triplet Debutantes Riley, Caley and Keely Walsh from Lone Tree

The Denver Ballet Guild is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and its structure as an umbrella
organization, with no dance company of its own, allows the Guild to host events that include a diverse group of dance companies, dancers and students. The Guild makes a significant impact on the local dance community by awarding annual grants to professional dance companies, sponsoring dance education and in-school programs, and awarding scholarships to young dancers. In 1969, Le Bal de Ballet was created to raise money to support dance programs and education in the Denver metro area. Originally, Le Bal introduced young ladies from Denver area families to Denver society. In 1988, young men were added to the Le Bal de Ballet program as Young Men of Distinction.

Today, the young men and women in the program are a representation of outstanding young people from the Denver area. Le Bal honored accomplished high school seniors, this year from 13 metro-area schools. These individuals exhibit a cross-section of exemplary academic achievements, display exceptional character, and have outstanding involvement in extracurricular activities, community service and the arts. 

Left to right: Paige, Debutante 2020; Petra Augustine, Debutante 2023; Lisa (mom) from Greenwood Village

The 2023 event, with a La Belle Époque theme, began at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with 32 young women and 16 young men being presented as Debutantes and Young Men of Distinction. The stage was designed as an evening in a French garden with chandeliers.

Young Man of Distinction Garrett Jobe from Centennial

Mr. Arthur Espinoza, Jr., master of ceremonies, opened the evening with the Mustang Cadet Squadron Color Guard of the United States Air Force. The Colors were presented while Miss Audrey Johnson, a 2016 Honoree and daughter of chair Maura Johnson, sang the National Anthem. After the introduction of the receiving party (Maura Johnson, 2023 chair; Jane Buckley, honorary chair; Katy Truitt, co-chair; and Kelli Fisher, Denver Ballet Guild president), Colorado Ballet performed to “La Vie En Rose.” 

The Young Men of Distinction were presented first followed by the Debutantes, with the assistance of the Mustang Cadet Squadron Honor Guard. After the honorees joined the audience, the Colorado Ballet performed to U2’s “City of Blinding Lights.” Both dances were performed by Ariel McCarty and Patrick Mihm, with choreography by ballet master Sandra Brown. 

The evening continued with the ball at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. After the cocktail hour, the Debutantes and their fathers/presenters and the Young Men of Distinction and their mothers entered the ballroom and performed a waltz. The ballroom was decorated with classic touches of an evening at a Paris night club, including white tablecloths, red velvet runners, candles and an abundance of red roses. There was a photo area with a red velvet sofa and black backdrop.

The Jerry Barnett Orchestra played classic French music during dinner in keeping with the La Belle Époque theme. After dinner, three can-can dancers performed, kicking off three hours of dancing to the Jerry Barnett Orchestra. At midnight, DJs took over and kept the dance floor full until the lights came on at 1 a.m.

LEFT: Left to right: Morey; Alexander; Reed Schneider, Young Man of Distinction 2023; Susan (mom); Morey (dad)

RIGHT: Le Bal de Ballet Leadership Team with husbands (left to right): Denver Ballet Guild president, Kelli Fisher and Brian; Le Bal 2024 chair, Katy Truitt and Adam; Le Bal 2023 chair Maura Johnson and Bruce; 2023 honorary chair Jane Buckley and Steve

Maura Johnson with the 2023 Honorees

Denver Ballet Guild