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.
2023 Wien Awards
The School of American Ballet is pleased to announce the following recipients of the 2023 Mae L. Wien Award:
Mae L. Wien Awards for Outstanding Promise
Mae L. Wien Faculty Award for Distinguished Service
Oscar Estep was born in San Diego and fell in love with dance after a viewing of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker during a visit to New York. The following year his family moved to NYC and Oscar took classes at Ballet Hispanico before successfully auditioning for SAB at age 6. Childhood performances with NYCB included roles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and La Sylphide; but he also pursued his interest in baseball and soccer, participating first in NYC’s Westside Little League and then in Westside Soccer League concurrently with his ballet training until the age of 13. Performing experiences as an advanced student include SAB’s Student Choreography Workshop and the New York Choreographic Institute (2022 and 2023) and this year’s SAB Beauty of Ballet community performances and NYCB lecture demonstration program. Now 18, Oscar graduates from Professional Performing Arts School in June. He will attend the Royal Danish Ballet Summer School this July before beginning an apprenticeship with New York City Ballet in August. At this year’s Workshop, he performed featured parts in Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet and Napoli.
Natalie Glassie, 19, was born in Brooklyn and started neighborhood dance classes when she was 4 before enrolling at SAB at age 6. While training in the Children’s Division she performed in almost every New York City Ballet production that features parts for children, highlighted by two years as “Marie” in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at ages 10 and 11, Mozartiana, La Sylphide and Union Jack. Natalie danced in SAB’s 2019 and 2021 Student Choreography Workshops and both danced and choreographed (to music by Debussy) in 2022. Other performing experiences include the 2022 and 2023 spring sessions of the New York Choreographic Institute, NYCB’s lecture demonstration program (2020), SAB’s Beauty of Ballet community performances (2023), and SAB’s Workshop Performances in 2011, 2014, 2021 and 2022. She graduated from Professional Children’s School in 2022 with the senior awards for Excellence in Science and Excellence in Political Theory. At this year’s Workshop, Natalie performed principal parts in Coppélia, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet and Napoli.
Mia Williams started early dance training in a wide array of genres at age 3 in her hometown of Yuma, Arizona, after finding early inspiration in her mother’s pursuit of recreational tap dancing. By the age of 11, Mia had narrowed her dance focus to ballet. When she was 16, she attended SAB’s 2021 Summer Course and was invited to enroll that fall as an advanced student in the C2 class. For the past two years, Mia has lived in SAB’s on-site Residence Hall while training full time and attending Professional Performing Arts School, from which she will graduate this month. Performing experiences include SAB’s Beauty of Ballet community performances (Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux) and the 2022 Student Choreography Workshop. At the June 2022 Workshop Performances, Mia originated a role in the world premiere of Gianna Reisen’s Signs and performed in Symphony in C. Currently recovering from an injury, Mia did not appear in this year’s Workshop. Now 18, she has been invited to begin an apprenticeship with New York City Ballet in August.
Sheryl Ware began training in her hometown of San Mateo, California, with Robert and Carolyn Hanlin when she was 7. She attended the School of American Ballet’s Summer Course when she was 15 and subsequently enrolled in the School’s Winter Term. At the age of 17, George Balanchine invited her to join the New York City Ballet. During her ten years with NYCB, Ms. Ware performed principal and soloist roles in numerous works by the Company’s founding choreographers, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Ms Ware retired from dancing in 1980. She was invited to join SAB’s permanent faculty in 1996 and has been a mainstay teacher of Children’s and Intermediate Division classes ever since. Ms. Ware was first awarded the Mae L. Wien Award for Distinguished Service in 2003. In 2014, she participated in the Workshop as a stager, teaching Coppélia’s “Waltz of the Golden Hours” solo that Mr. Balanchine made for her in 1974. She contributes her knowledge of that ballet once again for this year’s performances.
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
(For Distinguished Service)