Welcome Reception

JANUARY 22, 2012

The Hôtel Plaza Athénée
37 East 64th Street
[between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue]
New York, New York 10065

On January 22, 2012, we began our Villa-Lobos 125th birthday anniversary celebration year with a very special opening welcome reception held at the beautiful Hôtel Plaza Athénée in New York City, which has an extraordinary connection to Heitor Villa-Lobos, and to the Green Mansions dance work we have created in his honor. 

Heitor Villa-Lobos lived at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée during 1958/1959 [then called the Alrae Hotel] when he composed the music for the score of the 1959 MGM movie adaptation of naturalist William Henry Hudson’s classic novel Green Mansions, which starred Audrey Hepburn, Anthony Perkins and Lee J. Cobb, among others.  Alfred Heller, who is creating the all-Villa-Lobos score for our Green Mansions dance work, often visited Villa-Lobos at his hotel suite during this time, and watched Villa-Lobos there as he orchestrated this vibrant and passionate music, full of the sounds of the Amazon rainforest.  Much of this same music is being included in the score of our new adaptation of Green Mansions for dance, and there will find new life now and for years to come.
At this festive opening reception, attendees were joined by members of our Green Mansions Guild Board and creative team, and returned with us to the “home” of this wonderful music for our special “Villa-Lobos and Dance” event. 

The “Villa-Lobos and Dance” event featured the historic connection between the composer and dance, which began when he was influenced early in his career by performances he saw of the Ballets Russes when they toured Brazil in the mid-1900s.  It was after this exposure that Villa-Lobos wrote his first music for dance, and continued to do so throughout his life.

Attendees were able to enjoy special showings of memorabilia from, and films of, dance works commissioned, choreographed and danced over the years to music by Villa-Lobos by luminaries from diverse dance disciplines such as Janet Collins, Carmen de Lavallade, Geoffrey Holder, José Limón, Natalya Stavro, Roland Petit, Graciela Daniele, Violette Verdy, Francisco Moncion, Margot Fonteyn and the Mark Morris Dance Group, among many others.
In addition, everyone was treated to an exclusive live performance, played by Dr. Alfred Heller-Piano and Julia Sakharova-Violin, of the Villa-Lobos music that has been selected for the first pas de deux between Rima and Abel, the main characters in our new Green Mansions dance work – a work that will continue the legacy of Villa-Lobos and dance, and also continue Villa-Lobos’ lifelong commitment to bridging cultural divides and fostering love and respect for the natural world.

Attendees were able to read the Proclamation from Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, declaring January 22, 2012 “Heitor Villa-Lobos Day” in honor of Villa-Lobos and recognizing the new Green Mansions dance work as “the kind of art we are most proud to celebrate”.  Attendees also heard the statement in honor of Heitor Villa-Lobos made on behalf of Luiz Felipe de Seixas Corrêa, the Cônsul-Geral of Brasil.  And there was a special champagne toast to mark this historic occasion

The Hôtel Plaza Athénée prepared sumptuous vegan tea sandwiches and delicious vegan desserts for everyone to enjoy, together with a specialty beverage made of ingredients used by the peoples of the rainforest.  As our thank-you gifts, everyone received a specially designed nametag featuring the Uirapurú rainforest bird, which was the subject of Villa-Lobos’ first ballet and is known in native legend to bring good fortune, and they also received a copy of the Mayor’s Proclamation and our Green Mansions Guild tote bag.

It was a wonderful beginning to a wonderful year of celebration!