The Museum of Performance and Design San Francisco with executive director Muriel Maffre, who took over last summer, hosted a relaxed and chatty evening called “Experience a Love Affair” at the romantic Winery on Treasure Island last night. She seems to have revitalized the museum as ballet dancers current and former mingled and joined other guests for a lovely dinner catered by Fraiche. 80 guests sat at intimate tables of eight with plenty of wine and champagne. The evening seemed to usher in a new era for the museum under the direction of the Frenchwoman Maffre, the former principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet known for her comedic talent and innovation. She announced the new location near Yerba Buena Gardens. Tickets started at $350.00, most of which was deductible.
For more: "Experience a Love Affair"
In keeping with the evening’s theme of experiencing a love affair with art, the museum sprinkled each of ten tables of eight with red rose petals and set each place with one long stem. The museum presented an art installation and had recorded SF principal dancer Pascal Molat reading from the collection of love letters from Marcel Marceau to his intimate friend of forty years, Bari Rolfe of Oakland. There were no letters on display from Rolfe.
The museum holds the letters in it’s collection and includes a photo of Rolfe, who was Jewish. She never married. Marceau wrote the letters in large expressive script and in English for her, addressing her as “my dearest Bari” and he mentioned her marvelous body. He doodled smiling suns and a cartoon of himself in his trademark French t-shirt of black and white horizontal stripes. So this is what the French mime says when he writes privately although his public motto was “sans paroles”, without words.
Marceau wrote to her often on hotel notes or stationery as well as his own. The installation reflected this long distance affection and warm remembrances of physical encounters with a stark hotel room set-up, little but a bed with clinical white linens, a travel alarm clock, a mirror and a modest writing desk. The relationship lasted forty years, starting in 1959. One of his more recent letters came from the Hotel Nikko off Union Square on Mason Street in 1999.
Meanwhile. Bari Rolfe lived on 66th Street just off Telegraph Avenue near the Berkeley border. She too was a mime and had started as a dancer. She died in 2002 and Marceau died in 2007. She was about six years older than he was.
Maffre emceed and presented a humorous slide show with some of the artifacts at the museum, talking of how the collection has grown and grown. She in conclusion announced the new location of the museum near Yerba Buena Gardens and showed an architectural drawing of the new space.
It was an evening of musings as promised, with a friendly and congenial gathering mingling and talking dance and film and even sailing. The young bartender was a sailor with a boat in San Rafael and mentioned the America’s Cup has a camp just outside the winery under tight security.
Speaking of muses, Maffre’s long-time partner and former dancer turned film maker Benjamin Pierce attended and chatted about how Maffre has been his muse for twelve years. He mingled happily and posed with guests for pictures, at ease among friends. He said he has a film about Muriel in his head, with her starring as herself. He has captured her comedic “Dying Swan” as well as her performances with life-size puppets to Stravinsky. These days the couples’ creative endeavors together involve renovating a house at Ocean Beach. Since Maffre has become executive director of MPD after finishing her arts management MA she has also started teaching dance performance full time at Stanford so the couple stays extremely busy.
Fraiche, a French caterer in San Francisco, prepared a delicious dinner of butter fish and short ribs on a bed of butternut squash ravioli with greens on the side. Fraiche presented the plates beautifully with a fresh flower on top, marking the beginning of spring as well as complementing the romantic theme.
Elegant desserts came after the presentation and Maffre said those would not be brought to the tables by servers, the guest would have to go to the desserts. Fraiche set up tiers of lemon meringue tarts, little crème brules, bite size chocolate tarts and elegant little cups of chocolate mousse, served with coffee and tea.
The Winery poured lovely red and white wines but a popular choice was a prosecco type of sparkling wine called Glitter, a little sweet and perfect for a dessert or with brunch.
Live music with four musicians played background instrumentals upstairs in the lobby and dinner was served below amid the casks, with strings of lights stretched across the room.
SF Ballet principal dancer Pascal Molat mingled and posed for photos with other guests. The Frenchman is married and has performed also at ACT in choreographer Val Caniparolli’s dance theater piece set in North Beach’s Tosca Café. It’s about different configurations of lovers who visited the café through the eras, a chronicle of San Francisco history. Maffre herself performed in the workshop at Yerba Buena Gardens before the finished production went to ACT.
Houston Ballet principal dancer James Gotesky also attended “Experience a Love Affair”. He mingled but attended with his mother, dance writer and author Toba Singer to whom he is close. Gotesky comes from the Bay Area and has worked with the ballet in Seattle. He talked excitedly about his upcoming role as Captain Hook, who looks like a version of Prince he says. He talked about flying as a dancer and being suspended from the rafters of the ballet stage for about fifteen minutes at a time. Among his achievements, Gotesky says he also quit smoking and it only took about two days to get it out of his system.
SF Ballet soloist Garen Price Scribner also mingled amiably.
A modest writer and psychiatrist attended and talked about his daughter who helps edit his book.
The Huffs attended and Mr. Huff chatted about sailing his motorboat at their getaway home north of Vancouver.
A dance film maker attended and chatted about her new arts website and said she’s looking for bloggers to take assignments.
Tickets were as follows:
Partners Table (8 seats) @ $10,000 ($8,960 Deductible)
Premier Seating for eight and listing in all printed material
Partner Ticket (1 seat) @ $1,300 ($1,170 Deductible)
Premier Seating for one and listing in all printed material
Connoisseurs Table (8 seats) @ $5,000 ($3,960 Deductible)
Advantage Seating for eight and listing in all printed material
Connoisseurs Tickets (2 seats) @ $1,250 ($990 Deductible)
Advantage Seating for two and listing in all printed material
Follower Ticket (1 seat) @ $500 ($370 Deductible)
Priority Seating for one and listing in all printed material
Individual Ticket (1 seat) @ $350 ($220 Deductible)
Seating for one
For more information: http://www.mpdsf.org/aloveaffair
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