The stage was set Saturday night for an incredible evening. Gorgeous decorations, a sold out crowd, a world class performer ready to take the stage, and the beautiful National Museum of Dance as the backdrop. Sequins seem to be the style statement of the summer and no one did it better than Michele Riggi, decked out in a hot pink sequin THEIA gown that was glamorous down to the last inch. Michele graciously greeted guests at the entrance of the museum, setting the tone for the elegant evening. After guests posed for photos they entered the absolutely buzzing museum full of partygoers eager to see the inimitable Ben Vereen perform.
The first people we spotted inside were Honorary Chairpersons Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson. Marylou, a founder of the National Museum of Dance credits her friend Michele Riggi with helping bring the museum back to life. “Michele is so wonderful, she is a phenomenal woman. If she wasn’t involved with the museum it wouldn’t be here right now, she has made it alive again.” Mingling inside the Museum we saw Dr. Joy Lucas, Nikki and Niall Roche, Kim Burton, Liz Bishop, David and Roslyn Zecchini, Marcia White, Pam Worth, and Phyllis and Blair Bynum. Julie and Sonny Bonacio were there with Julie looking fantastic in her aqua sequined dress, and Margie Rotchford also dazzled in sequins. Marlene and Michael Okby were there as was Natalie Sillery, and Assistant Director of the National Museum of Dance, Sarah Hall Weaver had the prettiest updo of the night.
The museum was certainly alive that night as guests made their way to their seats to watch the Hall of Fame induction. The Tattlers had a prime view and seated at our table was Chris Riggi, Vincent Riggi Jr., Johnny Rich and Laura James. Laura, whose father, actor John James served as the fantastic emcee of the evening, is going to be competing on America’s Next Top Model and she looked absolutely stunning.
Seated inside we saw dancer and choreographer Jacques d’Amboise, whom Ben Vereen credited as one of his idols growing up, there to help honor the inductee. As Michele presented the Hall of Fame award to Ben Vereen the crowd rose to its feet for a rousing standing ovation. In his acceptance speech Ben told the crowd how discovering the arts changed his life growing up. “Now to have you induct me into the Hall of Fame with dancers I have admired all my life just touches my heart”. Ben also talked to the crowd about the beautiful force that is Michele Riggi, “When this woman says something, it IS something, her words go out and accomplish what they were said to do”.
We caught up with Patty Riggi chatting with the man of the hour, Ben Vereen. Patty strayed from the sequins that night and instead was in an absolutely knock out gown from The Shop and she looked amazing. Before Ben took the stage again guests were treated to an energetic performance by the fantastic New York Song and Dance Company. Spotted in the lavishly decorated ballroom we saw Rochele Riggi, Janine Robinson and Tom Nigro, John Witt and Cari Endres, Angela and Wayne Beddoe, and Angelo and Kate Calbone. The dinner was absolutely top notch with Mazzone Hospitality serving lobster tails and filet, with Angelo Mazzone himself circulating the room ensuring the always perfect service guests have come to expect from Mazzone.
Ben’s performance was truly incredible. He passionately performed songs from his incredible stage performances and the crowd was absolutely enthralled. His passion and energy was contagious and he had the crowd clapping along and cheering, receiving another standing ovation after he was finished. He spoke to the crowd once more after his performance, telling guests that “A civilization without culture is no civilization at all”, before happily obliging everyone to an encore. As the band took to the stage everyone was on their feet ready to dance. Margie Rotchford grabbed a tambourine and Nikki Roche hopped up on stage along with Gloria Ford and the whole room was caught up in the dancing spirit thanks to Ben. It was an absolutely amazing evening and the Tattlers were truly blown away by this incredible event. Michele certainly did inject some brilliant life into the National Museum of Dance that evening, and into Saratoga Springs as well.