Stella Abrera, left, Gillian Murphy, Misty Copeland and event co-chair Michael Moser attend the holiday benefit for the American Ballet Theatre at the Beverly Hilton on Monday. (Vince Bucci)
In addition to a gala dinner at the Beverly Hilton, guests at Monday’s holiday benefit for the New York-based American Ballet Theatre also got a sneak preview of the ballet company’s programs for Southern California, along with an opportunity to meet the dancers over petit fours, mini-cupcakes, fruit tarts and other treats at a dessert reception.
The one-night-only, pre-dinner performance consisted of excerpts from classic and contemporary ballets with the evening’s dessert buffet, which, according to American Ballet Theatre Executive Director Kara Medoff Barnett, took inspiration from two of the night’s works, Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Nutcracker” and its “land of the sweets” and Ratmansky’s upcoming world premiere, “Whipped Cream.” (The latter she described as “a young boy’s whimsical adventure in a Viennese candy shop.”)
Taking note of the costumes designed by artist Mark Ryden for “Whipped Cream,” Barnett added, “That stunning tutu that you saw on [principal dancer Stella Abrera as Princess Tea Flower] is just a hint of the delectable costumes. Just wait until you see the Gumdrop Girl and the Parfait Man.”
If you weren’t among the nearly 300 guests, here are five of the night’s conversations.
1.) After dancing the role of Juliet (with soloist Alexandre Hammoudi as her Romeo), principal dancer Misty Copeland slipped into a Rachel Zoe cocktail frock with silver fringe and accessorized the look with a Harry Winston diamond bracelet, ring and dangly Secret Combination chandelier earrings. “Because the dress moves, we wanted the jewelry to move,” said Michael Moser, regional vice president at Harry Winston, a gala sponsor along with the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation.
2.) “It’s so nice to come home,” said Copeland, a California native, calling the audiences “incredible” for their enthusiasm and ability to vocalize “what they’re feeling in the moment.”
3.) “I love dancing out here,” concurred soloist Christine Shevchenko, who performed a pas de deux from “Don Quixote.” “I don’t know what it is, but when the audience has good energy, you dance better.”
4.) Choreographer Benjamin Millepied, whose “Daphnis and Chloe” was also on the bill, said he came to support the ABT and first created a work for the company about 10 years ago. Millepied founded L.A. Dance Project, which will have its gala on Dec. 10 at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
5.) “I’ve been an American Ballet Theatre fan ever since I was a little girl, and I wanted to be a ballerina before I ever thought to be an actress,” said Eva LaRue, best known for her roles on “All My Children” and “CSI: Miami.” This year, LaRue, a regular at the ballet company’s gala, brought her daughter, Kaya, 15, in celebration of the teen’s birthday on Tuesday.
Following the performance, principal dancers Abrera, Copeland, Gillian Murphy, Cory Stearns and James Whiteside joined the gala crowd, which also included Jane Seymour, Music Center Chief Executive Rachel Moore and event co-chairs Avery and Andy Barth, Sutton Stracke and Moser.
Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News L.A.