The 15th annual Kennedy Center Honors were awarded Sunday night amid red plush and crystal chandeliers, a sweep of cello music for Mstislav Rostropovich, and a pride of famous dancers to surprise dancer and actress Ginger Rogers.
The entire cello section of the National Symphony, along with cellist Yo Yo Ma and others, paid hommage to Mr. Rostropovich. Legendary dancer Maria Tallchief and Cyd Charisse led a long line of dancers who gave tribute to Miss Rogers, who was also serenaded by the current Broadway cast of "Crazy for You" with a number from her first musical.
Among the other honorees were jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, for whom Aretha Franklin belted out her classic "You Send Me." Director-actor Paul Newman and actress Joanne Woodward were treated to a chorus of children from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a facility they founded for seriously ill children, with the song, "If There Were More People Like You." For Paul Taylor, modern dance choreographer, the stage came alive with the elegant rhythms of his dance company.
President Bush thanked the performers at a White House reception before the gala, saying, "Tonight's honorees have delivered a lifetime of performances that have carried us to places and emotions and ideals only the best in the performing arts can reach."
The evening's host for the show was Walter Cronkite, with appearances by Gregory Peck, Robert Redford, and Tom Selleck. It will be televised over CBS stations on Dec. 30.