Kardashian confronts tradition at elite Vienna ball

Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:12pm EST
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By Georgina Prodhan

VIENNA (Reuters) - At 24, Olga Goreglyad is a veteran of society balls around Europe but her ambition will not be fulfilled until she dances on Thursday night as a debutante at Vienna's Opera Ball - something celebrity guest Kim Kardashian will not be doing.

Almost every social group and profession in Austria, from confectioners to firefighters and pharmacists to refugees, holds its own ball, but the Opera Ball is the most elite, with a presidential opening and top-class music and ballet.

"It's an event where the opera can present itself. It's an important platform," opera director Dominique Meyer told Reuters.

But each year, the fine classical performances of the Vienna Philharmonic and State Ballet are overshadowed in the Austrian media by the paid celebrity guests invited by Viennese millionaire mall developer Richard Lugner.

Lugner's past guests have included singer Geri Halliwell and actors Larry Hagman and Pamela Anderson. This year, reality-TV star Kardashian is his main guest.

"Dancing is not my thing," she said at an autograph and question session on Thursday when asked whether she was having waltz lessons. Asked how she kept in shape, she replied: "Armenian genes and squats."

The 144 debutants and debutantes who will open the ball, on the other hand, have spent weeks in intensive rehearsals for a performance that lasts just three or four minutes but has a huge audience on television at home and abroad.


U.S. television personality Kim Kardashian (L) and her host Viennese millionaire mall developer Richard Lugner attend a news conference ahead of the Opera Ball in Vienna February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader