The Mae L. Wien Awards
In the late nineteenth century, Herman Levy from Russia and Roselle Linker of France immigrated to New York. They married in 1904 and in 1909, on the 4th of July, their daughter Mae was born. The Levys lived in Manhattan and Mae attended Julia Richmond Elementary School and Washington Irving High School, Columbia University, and art school as well.
At a New Year’s Eve party in 1928, Mae met Lawrence A. Wien and they were married the next year, returning from their honeymoon just before the infamous October stock market crash. The young married couple lived in Manhattan, then Brooklyn and, as Larry Wien’s business prospects flourished, in Connecticut. They had two daughters: Enid (“Dinny”) and Isabel.
It was a close-knit family, and when Dinny married Lester Morse and Isabel married Peter Malkin, they and their children stayed intimately involved with the Wiens. The extended family spent major holidays together and often traveled together.
Larry was involved with numerous New York City organizations and the Wiens were generous donors to Brandeis University, Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet, and especially Columbia University and Columbia Law School. He sat on the Lincoln Center Board for many years and was instrumental in admitting the School of American Ballet to Lincoln Center as a full constituent.
When Mrs. Wien died in 1986, her husband and family established the annual Mae L. Wien Awards at SAB in her honor. At the same time, the family endowed a Faculty Chair in honor of Mrs. Wien. The first recipient of this honor was former ballerina and longtime faculty member, Alexandra Danilova. When she retired in 1989, the Mae L. Wien Chair passed to veteran teacher Andrei Kramarevsky.
2019 Wien Awards
The School of American Ballet is pleased to announce the following recipients of the 2019 Mae L. Wien Award:
Mae L. Wien Faculty Award for Distinguished Service
Mae L. Wien Awards for Outstanding Promise
Phoebe Higgins trained in SAB’s Children’s Division from the ages of 8 to 12 and also received ballet instruction as a child from SAB alumna Romana Kryzanowska. While earning an Art History degree at SUNY Purchase, Phoebe re-encountered Kryzanowska (then the director of The Pilates Studio) and began to study the Pilates Method. From 1980-89, Phoebe taught under Kryzanowska at The Pilates Studio, and upon its closing she partnered with NYC-based chiropractor Howard Sichel to offer Pilates to his patients. That work led to the establishment of Power Pilates, which Ms. Higgins helped to grow into a successful studio with locations around the world. In 1998, SAB invited Ms. Higgins to design a Pilates program for SAB’s Intermediate and Advanced Students, and two decades later she continues to offer instruction to Winter Term students as an important component of SAB’s student wellness offerings. In addition to her current work at SAB, Ms. Higgins offers private instruction and workshops to clients in New York City. She is a PMA Gold Certified teacher.
Savannah Durham took up ballet, tap and jazz lessons when she was 6 in Advance, North Carolina. At 8 she enrolled at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, eventually progressing to UNCSA’s high school division and training with Dayna Fox. After attending SAB’s five week Summer Course from the ages of 12 to 14, she enrolled at Boston Ballet School for the 2015-16 school year. She was accepted into SAB’s year-round program in the fall of 2016. Savannah danced in the Student Choreography Workshop in 2017 and 2018 and performed in SAB’s Beauty of Ballet community performances in 2018. She is a 2018-19 Children’s Division teaching assistant for the Girls IIB and Prep Girls 5 classes. Savannah danced corps roles in La Source and Western Symphony at SAB’s 2018 Workshop Performances. This year she will perform principal parts in Agon and Bourrée Fantasque. Now 19, Savannah was recognized with a prestigious Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award in March. She has been invited to become an apprentice with New York City Ballet in August.
Shelby Tzung, 18, started dance lessons in her hometown of Los Angeles, California, at the age of 3. At 7 she enrolled at Westside School of Ballet under the leadership of SAB/NYCB alumna Yvonne Mounsey. Over the next 9 years she performed numerous featured roles in school productions while training with Francine Kessler Lavac and Martine Harley. In 2016, she was named a grand prize finalist in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. Shelby attended SAB’s California Workshop at age 11 and spent the summers of 2013, 2015 and 2017 as a student in SAB’s five-week Summer Course. She accepted SAB’s invitation to become a year-round student in the fall of 2017. Shelby choreographed a ballet to music by Philip Glass for SAB’s 2018 Student Choreography Workshop. She currently holds a student leadership position in the Residence Hall as a Community Development Assistant and is a 2018-19 teaching assistant for the Prep Girls 1 class and for SAB’s Little Dancers program. Shelby, who will graduate from Professional Children’s School in June, earned PCS’s Dani Brenner Award in 2018 and the senior award for Superiority in Math and Physics in 2019. In this year’s Workshop, she will perform principal roles in Concerto Barocco and New Sleep and a demi-soloist part in Bourrée Fantasque. Shelby will join National Ballet of Canada as an apprentice in July.
At age 5, Cainan Weber was inspired by a performance of The Nutcracker in his hometown of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and followed in the footsteps of his older brother and sister by enrolling at the Dolly Haltzman Dance Academy. With guidance from his musician father (currently a euphonium player with the Allentown Band) he started trumpet lessons and developed a passion for music that rivaled his love of ballet. While continuing to train seriously with SAB alumna Jennifer Haltzman Tracy and Trinette Singleton, Cainan was accepted into Arts Academy Charter Middle School where he majored in trumpet. Cainan attended SAB’s Summer Course for three consecutive summers before enrolling in the Winter Term in the fall of 2016 at age 14. He performed principal roles in La Source and Western Symphony at the 2018 Workshop. In January, Cainan was invited to begin an apprenticeship with New York City Ballet. He continues to live in SAB’s on-site residence and will complete his junior year at Professional Performing Arts School in June. Now 17, Cainan will perform in the New Sleep pas de deux at this year’s Workshop.
Over the years the students who have received Mae L. Wien Awards have graduated to rewarding ballet careers. Many dance with the New York City Ballet. Others have gone to professional companies both here and abroad: American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, Maurice Bejart’s Ballet of the Twentieth Century, and the White Oak Project. Several of the older awardees’ performing careers have ended; some have stayed in the ballet world and are teachers, choreographers, and ballet mistresses. Others have pursued such diverse second careers as forestry, catering, finance, physical therapy and news casting.
The Mae L. Wien Awardees are:
Ana Sophia Scheller
Lisa de Ribère
Claire Von Enck
Emma Von Enck