Petroushka Ball History

Established in 1965


The Petroushka Ball held annually in New York City, is the primary fundraising event for the Russian Children’s Welfare Society.

The “Petroushka” Ball’s name came from old Russia, Petroushka was one of the most popular puppet theater characters, no matter his misfortune, he always bounced back. Igor Stavinsky, Michael Fokine and Alexandre Benois created the masterpiece ballet "Petroushka", featuring the luckless but undefeated Petroushka who had fallen in love with a graceful ballerina.

The Petroushka Ball was started in 1965 as an expansion of a small tea dance, that was hosted by a group of members of the Society (Mr. and Mrs. Serge C. Bouteneff, Mrs. Ivan P.Obolensky, Mrs. Diane Erstavi, Princess Sergei Belosselsky-Belozersky) with a Junior Committee that was formed including Helen Basilevsky, Mafalda Chanler, Amy Gristede, Andre Kotchubey, and Beatrice and Vladimir Fekula. Beatrice Fekula is the current President of the RCWS. To this day it was never settled as to who either Beatrice or the late Vladimir Fekula actually named the "Petroushka" Ball during that first meeting and they borrowed it from a wonderful restaurant that used to be in the Volnay Hotel owned by a charming Russian lady who served wonderful food accompanied by live Russian music.

The late Helen Basilevsky (grand daughter of White Guards General Pyotr Wrangel) designed the "Petroushka" emblem which is still used on all our invitations, Ball journals and featured on @PetroushkaBall Instagram page.

In late 60s and early 70s, the Petroushka Ball was held under the patronage of H.H. Princess Vera of Russia, the last member of the Romanov dynasty who was born in Russia. Princess Vera Constantinovna of Russia (1906-2001), a great-granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and the youngest child of Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia, was born in Imperial Russia and was a childhood playmate of Nicholas II's younger children. At the age of twelve she escaped revolutionary Russia and spent the rest of her life in exile, first in Europe and later in the United States. From 1952 until 1969, Princess Vera was working as a volunteer at the Russian Children's Welfare Society, assisting with day to day activities of the organization. 

The first Petroushka Ball was held at the no longer in existence Delmonico Hotel; it sold out and was an overwhelming success. In the sixties hotels did not require dinner to be served, which allowed the committee to issue a very inexpensive ticket, at the cost of $8.00. Because the first Ball was so popular as the evening went on the hotel staff just kept adding tables to the dance floor. Due to the overwhelming success of the first Petroushka Ball it moved to the Plaza Hotel, where the Society has called home other than a year or two at the Waldorf during the Plazas refurbishing of the Ball Room. The Ball has become one of New York most vibrant and anticipated annual events, attracting upwards of 700 dinner and dancing guests.


Video from the 2009 Petroushka Ball