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Grand Pas de Deux 2009 - Fairmont Royal York Hotel (February 7, 2009)

It's the month of February and Canada's National Ballet School (NBS) honoured Kiki and Ian Delaney at their 20th annual Grand Pas de Deux Fundraising Gala on February 7th, 2009 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. In keeping with the Gala's proximity to Valentine's Day, titled My Funky Valentine, celebrated this romantic time of year by merging all the classic traditions of Valentine's with contemporary culture. My Funky Valentine showcased a party experience that was funky, original and fun, all set against the backdrop of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Classic love songs were mashed with songs with a contemporary beat, an exquisite culinary experience, as well as performance by the students of Canada's National Ballet School. It was a great success and $700,000 was raised for NBS.

Seamus O'Regan, co-host of Canada's number one national morning show, Canada AM, hosted this annual fundraising Gala, Grande Pas de Deux 2009: My Funky Valentine. Each year at the Grand Pas de Deux Gala, a couple is honoured for their philanthropic contribution to NBS. This year's honourees are Kiki and Ian Delaney. While the Delaneys’ financial contributions towards Canada’s National Ballet School are widely acknowledged, what is less commonly known is their other involvement with the School. Kiki Delaney has been a participant in NBS’ popular Adult Ballet series for the last three years, taking classes with NBS’ Adult Ballet Coordinator, Bob McCollum.

In addition to his involvement with NBS’ ballet programs, Ian Delaney is Non-Executive Chairman of Sherritt International, one of the largest foreign investors in Cuba, and Sherritt works hard to support NBS’ special relationship with the National Ballet School of Cuba. Sherritt provides funding for NBS to send our surplus pointe shoe and dance wear stock to Cuba. Sherritt also takes care of the logistics for both shipping and receiving, as well as logistics and support whenever NBS staff visit Cuba. Teachers from NBS have taught in Cuba, and been jury members on its competition panels, and teachers from Cuba, including the great Fernando Alonzo, routinely visit and teach at NBS.

The highlight of the evening was the performance by students of Canada’s National Ballet School. They performed five different works, one choreographed by NBS student Oliva Zivot, the rest by NBS’ own Evelina Ganina. After dinner and a live auction, attendees were invited to dance to Lenny Graff's Big Band. Lenny Graff and his Big Band have been performing together for over twenty years, and are famed not only for their renditions of the classics by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and the like, but also for their original compositions.

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