Jacques d’Amboise’s death last week brought back a fond memory of an event that years later still makes me shake my head in disbelieve. Let me explain.
My friend, Kimberly, had asked if I was interested in attending a fundraiser event entitled An Evening with Jacques d’Amboise and friends at P.J. Clarke’s in Manhattan. The tickets were a little pricey but it included dinner and a donation to his work with public school children. I grew up following his dance career. And as a dance teacher and lover of ballet, I thought why not its for a good cause.
I arrived a little early and decided I would go in anyway as I hoped Kimberly would already be there. As I walked in, I spotted Kimberly sitting having a conversation with Jacques d’Amboise. Wow. Then Mr. d’Amboise stood up, extended his hand and said “you must be Ann.” I tried my best to appear calm and sophisticated. We had a delightful conversation and then he was off to take care of some final details for the evening. Kimberly and I were surprised but decided arriving early had some perks.
Eventually others arrived and people were directed to take their seats. It was a small group less than fifty people. Kimberly and I found seats. Our table begun to fill up. Our table mates introduced themselves and then the big question – so how do you know Jacques? Wait. What? This is truly is Jacques d’ Amboise’s friends. Alrighty, then. I couldn’t make eye contact with Kimberly because I knew I would burst out laughing. We were the only people in the room who weren’t personal friends of Jacques d’Amboise. How did this happen – I am sitting in a room with the people I had watched perform on stage or read about in Dance Magazine. I tried my best not to go all fan girl. I felt like a bug on the wall hearing insider stories of the ballet world. It was wonderful.
When the evening concluded, Kimberly and I just looked at each other and laughed. We decided that sometimes and friends actually means and friends even if an invitation shows up in your inbox. Would I do it again, in a heartbeat. Dance on, Jacques, dance on.
“Who am I? I’m a man; an American, a father, a teacher, but most of all, I am a person who knows how the arts can change lives, because they transformed mine. I was a dancer.” ~ Jacques d’Amboise