On the 24th of July, Dr. David Benoit-Mohan and Ms. Stephanie Salvadero represented the Alliance Française de Détroit at two events sponsored by the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan. In the morning, The FCHSM had a monument dedicated at Mount Elliott Cemetery in Detroit honoring all the French habitants who founded this area in the early 1700s, and whose remains had been buried in various cemeteries in Detroit until 1869 (at which time they were transferred to an unmarked grave at Mt. Elliott).  The monument was blessed by Cardinal Szoka, a former Archbishop of Detroit and Prefect of Economic Affairs of the Holy See (Vatican). There was a ceremony which followed at the Fr. Solanus Casey Center in which the names of some of the French settlers were called out by members of the FCHSM, who placed flowers in commemorative vases and the soprano Jackie Robitaille and others sang for guests.  Harriet J. Berg, Chev., was invited to place flowers in the commemorative vases for the sieur de Cadillac and Madame de Cadillac.  A tour around Mt. Elliott Cemetery revealed many monuments to the founding French families of this area, including Campau, St. Aubin, Monnier, and Navarre.  As an added point of interest, inside the Center, one could see the relics of Fr. Solanus Casey, as well as the Capuchin Chapel.

     That evening, Suzanne Boivin Sommerville (a cousin of Madame de Cadillac and descendant of King Louis IX’s brother Robert), Gail Moreau-DesHarnais and Rosemary Kirt arranged for a French Mass at the church of Ste. Anne in what is now known as "Mexicantown."  Tradition says that the parish of Ste. Anne was founded on July 26, 1701, the Feast of Ste. Anne, two days after the sieur de Cadillac landed on the shores of Detroit. At the French Mass, David and Stephanie carried the bread and wine for Communion escorted by a crucifer and two Chevaliers de Colombe, with drawn swords.  Afterwards, the congregation assembled outside for a performance by Moses Madwagon, who played French folk music under the pavilion as well as for a performance of Baroque dance by the Dance thru History Theatre (event produced by Dr. David Mohan and directed by Michael Burden).  Stephanie and others from the FCHSM were interviewed by CBC News and the event was aired on television across French Canada on August 2nd, 2010, (See following link, August 2nd Section 2/5 at 3min:27 sec ).  All in all, it was a historic day, and we would like to thank our friends in the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan for involving us in these special events.  We look forward to a close working relationship with them for years to come!  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)


On Sunday, September 26, 2010, The Alliance Française de Détroit and the Alliance Française French Institute of Michigan travelled the sands of Morocco to one of our most exotic events yet! The two Alliances Françaises opened the new season with a North African Méchoui at the parish hall of the Congregational Church of Birmingham 1000 Cranbrook Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304. The savoury aroma of roasted lamb and Northern African cuisine transported us to an oasis of tranquillité as intoxicating melodies of Moroccan, Algerian, Egyptian music were danced to by Ta’Amullat Fi Buhayrit Al Zuman, a folkloric dance troupe named “Reflections in a Pool of Time.”  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)


On October 9th, Dr. David Benoit-Mohan Daphne Beardman, Mary Lou Rinski Stephanie Salvadero and others from the Alliance Francaise de Detroit attended a program of the Dante Alighieri Society of Michigan held at the Cauley Ferrari dealership. The program was entitled: "Flavors of Italy- Wine Tasting and Perspectives in Photography," featuring the photography of Mr. Richard Haskins and the wines of the Piedmont region of Italy. An added feature, of course, were the beautiful Ferraris and Maseratis...  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)




On Saturday, October 30, one of our own members, Dr. Hunciag..., took us on an insider’s tour of the Palace of Versailles, its gardens, salons, courtyards and colorful history. Versailles was truly fit for Louis XIV, the “Sun King,” who transformed a humble hunting lodge into a glittering palace, draining swamps and moving whole forests to create 250 acres of formal gardens, tree-lined paths, flower beds, lakes and fountains to complement the stupendous dream he was building. Maria Hunciag, who received her doctorate in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts Nicolae Grigorescu in Bucharest, Romania and her D.E.A. in Byzantine Art and Archeology from the Sorbonne. Maria has held such positions as Arts Curator at the Romanian National Fine Art Museum in Bucharest. President Dr. David Benoit-Mohan, Vice President Stephanie Salvadero, and member Noelle Blancke were the guard of honour. Yes, folks, it's a great time to be a part of the Alliance Francaise!  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)


On November 6th, Dr. David Benoit-Mohan, and the Alliance Francaise de Detroit produced a program starring the Dance Thru History Theatre Company (Harriet Berg, director) for the Austrian Society of Detroit's "Abend in Wien." The program featured dances of the court of Louis XVIII including, waltz, mazurka, minuet, gallopade and Congo minuet. It was set as the court of France visiting the Court of Austria with AF Detroit/Austrian Society members Ed and Jeanette Loeschel as the Hapsburg Imperial family.  Photos Courtesy of the Hon. Frank Sinz, Knight of the Cross of Merit of Austria  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)



On Sunday, Nov 21st 2010, the Alliance Française of Detroit hosted world-renowned chanteuse Claudia Hommel with accordioniste Julien Labro, pianist Elizabeth Doyle, drummer/saxophonist Carl Cafagna and bassist Rick Robinson (a musician of the DSO), in a spectacular celebration of Autumn entitled “Automne à Paris.” Featured songs include: Hymne à l'amour, Mademoiselle de Paris, La mer, Non, je ne regrette rien, Padam…padam…, Que reste-t-il de nos amours, Sous le ciel de Paris, La vie en rose and many others! As many of you know, Claudia Hommel was born in Paris, raised in Detroit and has sung throughout the U.S, being known for bringing authentic French chanson to life. Julien Labro, born in Marseilles, and having studied at the Marseilles Conservatory of Music, has won many prestigious awards including the Coupe Mondiale. Our venue for this nostalgic look at French music was Cliff Bell’s Jazz Club, 2030 Park Avenue, Detroit, MI.  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)

Photos Courtesy of Mary Lou Rynski


Photos Courtesy of Stephanie Salvadero

On Sunday, December 19, 2010, we re-created holiday traditions from the south of France to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah in Provence.  

Our evening began at 7 pm at the Tremonti restaurant, when guests coming in from the cold were welcomed by a blazing fireplace and traditionally decorated rooms à la Provencale

A delicious dinner with chicken or fish options was served followed by our piece de resistance, “les 13 desserts de Noël”, complete with un bûche de Noël and authentic Calissons d’Aix-en-Provence. During our feast we were serenaded by internationally-renowned troubadour Owain Phyfe as he brought to life ancient holiday music in Italian, Spanish, French, and Occitane. Festivities continued with Christmas and Hanukkah readings in French. A great time was had by all!!!


On February 5th, A.F. Detroit President, Dr. David Benoit-Mohan accompanied by Eliska Mayer Vitanovska (baroness von Vitanov) attended the Austrian Society of Detroit's Strauss Ball.  Dr. Benoit-Mohan and the Alliance Francaise recieved special mention in the Program and a red Austrian rose to mark the occasion.  Our friends in the Austrian Society did an outstanding job as usual organizing this ball and preserving in this younger generation the beauty of Austrian culture.  Thomas Schnöll, the Consul-General of Austria was present, and thanked Dr. Benoit-Mohan for organising the entertainment portion of the November 6th Abend in Wien performance which strengthened the ties between our two cultural organisations of France and Austria.  Photos Courtesy of the Hon. Frank Sinz, Knight of the Cross of Merit of Austria


The soft glow of candlelight and a harpsichord’s dulcet tones welcomed guests to the Alliance Française de Detroit's bal masqué de Saint Valentin on February 12 at the Community House in Birmingham.

After hors d'oeuvres and wine, a poetry recitation by Dr. Mohan, and a Baroque solo by Eliska Vitanowska von Vitanow, formerly of the National Opera Theatre of Prague, we danced to the music of Edith Piaf, Mireille Mathieu, Natasha St. Pier, Charles Trenet, Françoise Hardy,Carla Bruni, and Charles Aznavour.  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)



On March 5th, 2011, the Alliance Francaise of Detroit joined forces with the Poles to commemorate the birthday of the half-French, half-Polish pianist Frédéric Chopin, and to celebrate those common cultural bonds we share.  Our host for the evening was the American-Polish Cultural Center, located at 2975 East Maple Road, Troy, MI, and at 6:30 p.m., doors opened for registration and cash bar. A gourmet American-Polish dinner was served followed by a concert of Chopin’s works played by internationally-renowned pianist Leszek Bartkiewicz of Kraków. However, unlike almost any other Chopin concert in modern local history, these pieces were danced by the "Isadorables" of the Dance Thru History Theatre, in the style of the first great modern dancer, Isadora Duncan.  Duncan pieces (Mazurka, Etude and Nocturne) were choreographed by Harriet J. Berg, (Chev. Arts et Lettres) and performed by the blythe spirit, Laura Redman, the eternal and graceful Elaine Sledge, and the transcendant muse, Denisa Manolescu. Our guest soloist, Ms. Elizabeth Webb, did an exquisite, heartfelt performance of Caleb Mitchell's choreography to Prelude Op 28, No. 4. In closing, we were joined by the Le Lien Ballet Theatre of Troy, for a spectacular grand finale tribute from France to Poland, danced in the style of Duncan and demonstrating the nobility of the Polish people through the centuries. It was truly the Chopin-and-Isadora concert of the decade, and we played to a full house! 

Photos courtesy of Marie Thouvenot, Julien Brasseur, Jacqueline Kolowski, and Dijana Bucalo


On Sunday, April 10th, a group of twenty members gathered at the welcoming home of our treasurer, Ed Chalom, to enjoy the lavish cinematography of Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s 1990 film, Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Gérard Depardieu and Anne Brochet. Played in French with English subtitles, attendees were delighted by Cyrano's swaggering joie-de-vivre as he simultaneously albeit effortlessly rewrote plays and composed poetry at the point of a sword, challenging a hundred men to a duel one night, and declared his deathless love for the beautiful précieuse, Roxane, the next morning. His utter exuberance and passion for life, love, and poetry wooed us every moment of the film, leading us to be inevitably engrossed in each scene as the heart of Roxane was first swayed by the young beauty and battlefield valor of Christian de Neuvillette, then irrevocably captured by the love-sick prose written and recited by the dedicated but unrequited Cyrano de Bergerac.

An hour intermission was held as guests were led to beautifully set lunch tables harboring a home-made Arabic meal handsomely prepared by Ed Chalom. A three-course meal was served and enjoyed by all, Arabic specialties including tabouli, eggplant, hummus, bazergan cracked wheat, and lentil-carrot soup as appetizers; bulgar wheat with raisins sweetly paired with plain yogurt as the main course; and an assortment of Arabic pastries for dessert.




On Friday, April 15th, a cocktail hour from 7-9pm was held at the elegant Grosse Pointe War Memorial where guests delighted in kicking off the Total Immersion weekend - dutifully hosted by the three chapters of the Alliance Française: Grosse Pointe, Detroit, and the French Institute of Michigan - over a delicious dinner buffet of assorted fruits, vegetables and French cheeses. Red and white French wines graced the white-clothed tables as guests drew together in French conversation, serenaded by soothing French classical and contemporary piano music of our own Dr. David Benoit-Mohan. Honorary French Consul Bob Weyhing and Mr. David Thoms, Chev., presided over the evening with guests revelling in the humorous film-work of Jacques Tati in a slide and film presentation by Dr. Emilio Rusciano, the sharing of French jokes, and singing of French songs by Mr. Ed Chalom, Chev., and Ms. Pat Stewart. Ms. Alice Belfie gave an exhibition of several of her watercolor and oil landscapes of France and Ms. Lucie Chvatal gave an impassioned reading of "Fado pour les Femmes."
The Immersion continued bright and early on Saturday, April 16th, in downtown Detroit, at the welcoming international law offices of Miller Canfield. Guests eager for an elaborate program of French conversation arrived at 9am to savor a typical French breakfast of croissants and jam, fresh fruit and pain-au-chocolat while enjoying one another's company before engaging in a host of entertaining French activities. Six different segments - all in French - were hosted by various presenters from Wayne State University, the French Institute of Michigan, and the Grosse Pointe French Alliance, taking guests through interactive discussions concentrated on French language, culture, contemporary and African Francophone literature. Dr. Alina Cherry gave a thought provoking lecture on the interpretation of French literature, Dr Kate Paesani presented "Langues, Litterature et Images" , Corrine Pirog lectured on French Phonetics, Amal El-Hosni  presented "Possibilites des Choix", and Danielle DeFauw discussed "La Creche Provencale."  An intermission between programs featured a traditional French lunch, presenting an array of three sandwich choices including croque-monsieurs, in addition to a hot vegetable soup, tossed walnut-pear-blue cheese salad, and mixed olives. Dessert consisted of fresh fruit, crême brulé, espresso mousse, and crême-au-chocolat.  This informative and well-received day ended at 3 p.m., and we all look forward to similar, collaborative events in the future!  (photos courtesy Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise Detroit)


On Sunday, May 1st, members of the Alliance Francaise de Detroit, Grosse Pointe Hunt Club and the Dante Alighieri Society were treated to a concert entitled "La Triomphe du Printemps"/The Triumph of Spring!  Our venue was the elegant Grosse Pointe Hunt Club, in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI,.  Guests were greeted by an elegant manorial room, bathed in evening sunlight and covered in fragrant pink roses, and treated to a delectable, rarefied selection of predominantly French music.  Dinner and dessert hors d'oeuvres were served  during intermission. 

Musical selections included: En prière, Fairest Isle, Harp solo ~ Variations on a Theme in Ancient Style, Bring Flowers of the Fairest, Bring Flowers of the Rarest, Caresse Sur l'Océan, “Dove sei amato bene,” Flower duet (from Lakmé), Piano Solo ~ Allegro (from Palladio), In Trutina (from Carmina Burana), and O Nuit (Hippolyte et Aricie). 

Artists were:

Carol Ambrogio Wood, Soprano
Rachel Lamphere, mezzo-Soprano
Laura Palmieri, harpist
Shari Fiore, pianist
David Benoit-Mohan, guest pianist, Exec. Producer

(Photos courtesy of Stephanie Salvadero, Vice-President, Alliance Francaise de Detroit)


On May 6th, 2011, Dr. David Benoit-Mohan, Président, A. F. Détroit, was invited to the French-American Chamber of Commerce Gala, in which the guests of honor were His Excellency François DeLattre, French Ambassador to the U.S., and The Hon. Graham Paul, Consul-General of France in Chicago.  The theme of the gala was “In the Legacy of Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, Exploring New Frontiers,” and Cadillac and the ESI group were awarded “Company of the Year Status.” The event was held in the Westin Book Cadillac’s Venetian Ballroom.  Featured in the photos above are His Excellency François DeLattre, French Ambassador to the U.S.,  The Hon. Graham Paul, Consul-General of France in Chicago, Dr. David Benoit-Mohan, Président, A. F. Détroit, The Hon. Robert Weyhing, honorary Consul of France in Detroit, Marlene Hudson, FACC, The Hon. Nicholas Stasevich, honorary Consul of Great Britain in Detroit, and Mr. Pierric Bonnard Head of Chicago Trade Office - French Embassy. 

Dr. David Benoit-Mohan was presented to the French Ambassador by  The Hon. Graham Paul, Consul-General of France in Chicago, and The Hon. Robert Weyhing, honorary Consul of France in Detroit-who told him about the good work the Alliance is doing in this city.  Dr. Benoit-Mohan also spoke with the Ambassador and Consul-General about the Alliance Francaise of Detroit’s plans to do fundraisers to benefit Doctors Without Borders in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(photos courtesy of Stéphanie Salvadero, FACC Volunteer and Vice-Président, A. F. Détroit)

On June 25th, 2011, Alliance Francaise de Detroit launched its year-long campaign to support the work of Doctors Without Borders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We gathered at the Detroit Institute of Arts for lunch and a slide show by Dr. David Benoit-Mohan on the present state of the crisis in the Congo, and then went on a tour of the African Arts Gallery, led by curator Dr. Nii Quarcopoome. We were also fortunate to have Mr. Georges Tshibambe, a leading international businessman from DRC present, to give us his personal insight into the current crisis and the geopolitical situation in that region. It was one of our most incredible events yet, as A.F. Detroit reaches out in friendship to the francophone world. For a further description of our Congo Project, including ways you can be involved in this very worthy cause, please click here.  (Photo credits: Carol Marti, Vice-President, AF Detroit, Co-Chair, Congo Project)

On Friday, September 9th, 2011 at 6:30 p.m., the Alliance Française de Détroit produced its Fall fashion show, "Défile de Mode d'automne," at the Tre Monti Restaurant located at 1695 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, MI. It was a charity fashion show that benefited Médcins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders in their work in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The stars of the show are the latest Parisian fashions for Fall/Winter 2011 as sold by the Voilà Boutique of Grosse Pointe Farms, founded by two French sisters from Bretagne (Carole Philippe Davis, and Pascale Forster), who feature the clothes worn by Parisian women of style on a day-to-day basis in France. Deconstrutionist, whimsical, edgy and always chic, the many lines of timeless couture appeal to women of every age group, are versatile enough to be worn by either college students or high-power executives, and use environment-friendly textiles. For an added attraction, French-style Cirque acrobats of the Detroit Flyhouse opened the show in a spectacular performance with fire to some of the world’s most iconic music. It was a spectacular success and we helped fund a very worthy cause. Thanks to all who attended.  (Photo credits: Margaux Forter and Rafal Nowikowski)

2011 The Year of Maria Sklodowska-Curie and the Year of Franz Liszt

Members of the Alliance Française de Détroit and the American Polish Cultural Center joined to celebrate the life of the remarkable Dr. Marie Curie in an artistic evening of music and dance, held at the American Polish Cultural Center, 2975 East Maple Road Troy, MI on October 23rd, 2011, as we marked the 100th anniversary of her 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Our pianist for the evening was Jacqueline Csurgai-Schmitt, an award-winning symphonic pianist, who has performed extensively throughout Europe and received the Commemorative Award of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The music of Chopin, Mendelssohn and Liszt, with powerful dance performances by the transcendently beautiful Denisa Manolescu and the incandescent Megan Montgomery visualized over-arching themes in the personal life of the great scientist, Maria Skłodowska-Curie. Dances were choreographed by Dame Harriet J. Berg in the styles of Martha Graham and Isadora Duncan. We were further joined by the Filarets Choir of Troy Michigan, who sang some of the world’s most glorious music as the evening closed with a special tribute to this great heroine of Poland and France. The Exec. Producer was Dr. David Benoit-Mohan, president, Alliance Francaise de Detroit. DVDs of the program are available by calling (248) 915-0822. (Photos courtesy of Rafal Nowikowski, Detroit Polish TV).