It might’ve been a challenge to top last year’s spectacular 75th anniversary event, but the American Ballet Theatre pulled out all the stops again this year for its annual holiday benefit on December 5. The gala always features a one-night-only special performance of selections from classic and contemporary ballets by its world-renowned artists.
Principal dancers Stella Abrera, Misty Copeland, Gillian Murphy, Corey Stearns, Jeffrey Cirio and James Whiteside wowed the crowd at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton with scenes from the company’s repertoire including, naturally, “The Nutcracker.”
The performance also featured stunning excerpts from “Sleeping Beauty,” “Whipped Cream,” “Don Quixote,” “Daphnis and Chloe,” “The Story of…,” “Her Notes” and the evening’s grand finale, the magnificent “Romeo and Juliet,” featuring a radiant Copeland pas de deux-ing with Alexandre Hammoudi. It was almost enough to bring you to tears…of joy.
As the performance concluded, ABT executive director Kara Medoff Barnett thanked the dancers and guests and noted,” We are so proud to continue and expand our commitment to the Los Angeles area. Our offices and rehearsal studios may be in New York City, but Southern California is our second home.”
Ballet aficionados in the region will get a chance to see ABT’s annual engagement of Ratmansky’s “Nutcracker” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa during performances running December 9-18. And for Those Looking Ahead on the Calendar in mid-March the venue will host the world premiere of “Whipped Cream,” also choreographed by Ratmansky, with sets and costumes by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Ryden.
In addition to the star-studded performances at the gala, sparkling in another way were the jewels that the prima ballerinas wore on the red carpet before changing into their costumes. After all, the event is sponsored by Harry Winston, the jeweler known for its eye-catching diamonds, which adorned a group of formalwear-clad models during the cocktail hour that preceded the gala dinner.
The Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation was also sponsor of the event, whose co-chairs included Avery and Andy Barth, Michael Moser and Sutton Stracke.
The spectacular multi-colored rose centerpieces were created by florist Eric Buterbaugh.
ABT has been the home of many of ballet’s brightest stars, including the legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov.