Averell Fisk—grandson of former New York governor and U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union William Averell Harriman—chatted with his wife, Kirsten, about the hairy political issues surrounding Shen Yun. The Fisks were shocked that the Chinese authorities had attempted to stymie Shen Yun because of its ties to Falun Gong. “It’s just nice to put it to the Chinese a little bit,” said Mr. Fisk of attending the evening’s performance. “You think they’d be proud of their culture!” exclaimed Mrs. Fisk. “Remember the Cultural Revolution,” Mr. Fisk said in a knowing, muted tone. “They brainwashed everyone essentially,” concluded his wife.
Ms. Karan—whose nonprofit organization, Urban Zen, underwrote Shen Yun’s opening night—wore an arresting wooden necklace with large carved faces. “This is from Senegal, and these are from Haiti,” she said, gesturing to her many wooden bangles. “Part of Urban Zen is the preservation of culture and which it really links East and West together,” explained Ms. Karan.
Before long the younger set grew tired of standing around indoors and adjourned to the balcony. Dragging on cigarettes (is that even legal anymore?) socialites including Nora Zehetner, Zani Gugelmann and Alexandra Slatina chatted, fraternized and generally cordoned themselves off from the rest of the party.
After consorting for an hour or so, guests began to make their way back down the grand staircase where Jimmy Crystal gift bags were being distributed. The designer’s website doesn’t lie when it claims to “crystallize almost anything you can imagine”; the goodie bags included a crystal-covered letter opener. (We’ve been looking for one for ages!)
And so, after a week of highly favorable reviews and highly fashionable audiences, Shen Yun must once again bid farewell to New York. Provided they can evade Communist party censors, doubtless the company will be back next year. —Elise Knutsen
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