Around Aspen: Les Dames d’Aspen |

Around Aspen: Les Dames d’Aspen

MEHWelcoming guests to the Les Dames January luncheon at The Little Nell in Aspen are, left to right, Barbara Gold, vice-president of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Zander Higbie, development director of the ballet, and Bridget Badon, a vice president of Les Dames.

The greenhouse at The Little Nell hotel was the elegant setting for Les Dames d’Aspen annual January luncheon. From January to mid-April, and from mid-June to mid-October, Les Dames enjoy get-togethers such as dinners at homes, private clubs and restaurants, potluck meals, dinners including concerts and lectures, skiing days, a cross-country ski day, rounds of golf, bicycling, picnics, movie nights, wine tastings and special ballet invites.

The group was founded in 1983 by Christine Aubale-Gerschel at the request of Lita Warner Heller, who was president of the board of Ballet Aspen, to be a fundraising auxiliary for the ballet. In 1985 Christine and Joan Bracken Bain restructured the group into an autonomous organization, renamed it Les Dames d’Aspen and began raising money for other arts organizations. Over the years, Les Dames has contributed more than $2.6 million to local arts organizations and scholarships for local students. When it was first organized the women held several gala dinners and dances open to the public; the New Year’s Eve Gala was especially elegant.

Then in 2002 Christine once again took charge of the group and restructured it into a more social organization. Now, instead of putting on galas for the public, the group raises funds with dues from members and auctions. Every summer Les Dames holds a gala dinner dance for members and their husbands. With the almost weekly activities, Les Dames is an excellent way for newcomers to Aspen to become assimilated into the community.

This year the funds raised will benefit the following recipients: Of the first $100,000, 80 percent will go to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and the Aspen Dance Festival put on by the company. Four scholarships of $2,000 each will go to art students in the Aspen/Basalt schools. The remaining funds will be divided between the Aspen Writers’ Foundation and Theatre Aspen.

In the event Les Dames raises more than $100,000, donations will be made to the Aspen Music Festival and Jazz Aspen Snowmass.

Dues for members of Les Dames are $1,200 a year for trustees and $600 for junior trustees (under 45). Men are welcome in both categories as special advisors. Anyone interested in joining should call Christine Aubale-Gerschel at 970-925-9028.

Undercurrent … Wintertime chores in Aspen are shoveling out the car, shoveling off the roof and carrying wood for the fireplace.

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