|The ballet Bournonville Divertissements|
(All photos Lieba Nesis)
The New York City Ballet held its 51st Anniversary at the David H. Koch Theater with the Company's premiere of Peter Martins staging of "La Sylphide." Martins has long dreamed of adding this Danish classic to the Company's repertoire, as this ballet is one of the oldest surviving Romantic ballets and the first ballet Martin's ever saw.
The gala program also featured the return of "Bournonville Divertissements," a celebration of some of Danish ballet master August Bournonville's most popular works which have unparalleled speed and musicality. The Spring Gala is one of the preeminent social events of the year and this evening, which was sponsored by Vacheron Constantin, was more spectacular than ever.
|Danish Ambassador Jarl Madsen, Darci Kistler and Peter Martins|
The guest list was replete with billionaires including David Koch, Robert Kraft, Len Blavatnik, Earle Mack, Joseph Moinian, and numerous other titans; a perfect smattering of socialites with Jean Shafiroff, Dr. Susan Krysiewicz, Joy Marks, Indre Rockefeller, Nicole Dicocco, and Olivia Palermo just a small sampling; designers Valentino, Peter Copping, and Josep Font (designer for Delpozo), fresh from the Metropolitan Gala and dashing in tuxedos graced the event; and publicity giant Andrew Saffir and stylist to the stars June Ambrose socialized until the conclusion of the evening.
|Patricia Shiah, Jean Shafiroff & Dr. Susan Krysiewicz|
This gala normally has a luminary either designing the costumes or singing a special ballad but this night was an exception, it was executed masterfully for ballet purists alone, without the fanfare accompanied by a celebrity appearance. The fashion of the evening was remarkable with June Ambrose resplendent in a Rubin Singer dress and Liz Peek and Susan Krysiewicz astounding in Oscar de la Renta while Jean Shafiroff and Ashley Bouder shined in B Michael. The crowd was comprised of ballet enthusiasts eager for the show to begin.
|Dancers Ashley Bouder, Darci Kistler and Georgina Pazcoguin|
The first act "Bournonville Divertissements" was pleasant and joyful with peasant costumes and lighthearted music led by conductor Henrik Vagn Christensen. The pas de deux was executed to perfection by Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle and the audience went wild at the end of the first act which was filled with bouncy jumps, and swift footwork. The second ballet "La Sylphide" was created in 1836 by Danish choreographer August Bournonville and tells the tale of a young Scottish farmer, James, who jilts his fiancee on their wedding day after becoming entranced by an ethereal woodland sprite. "Sylphide" resonated deeply with Peter Martins, the master-in-chief of the ballet, because he trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and danced with the Royal Danish Ballet. The staging by Martins included men costumed in plaid purple and green kilts, accompanied by women in skirts of the same color.
|Indre Rockefeller in Delpozo, and Olivia Palermo in Valentino|
The scenery and costumes were designed by Susan Tamanny, who normally acts as an usher at the ballet handing out programs and helping audience members to their seats. When Martins tapped her to produce the costumes and sets, a role she fulfilled 30 years ago when Martins staged the ballet, she was stunned and delighted. Tammany did a splendid job presenting an incredible explosion of color replicating a forest where James goes desperately searching for his love who shudders and dies. The women in this act appear in white tutus and headpieces, conjuring up "Swan Lake" with beautiful trees in the background and a soulful accompaniment by the orchestra. This act's drama had me in tears and the wildly enthusiastic audience responded to the superb performances of Sterling Hyltin, Joaquin de Luz and Georgina Pazcoguin.
|Richard Kielar, June Ambrose and Christian Zimmermann|
The evening concluded with a second floor dinner at the Koch Theater which contained white flowers and silver tablecloths with a spectacular view of Lincoln Center. It was announced that the evening raised more than 2.3 million dollars and Peter Martins paid tribute to ballet masters Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine, who he said urged him not to be a slave to history but to appreciate its importance. Peter Copping, designer at Oscar de la Renta, marveled at the beauty of the costumes and told me he would love to design costumes for the ballet in the near future. Copping, whose collection is not out yet, is both elegant and approachable, and has already attained an important following amongst the social set.
|David Koch and B Michael|
I spotted David Koch in the crowd, the multibillionaire who was still consumed with the beauty of the women at the Met Gala Monday night, telling me he could not believe the level of magnificence of the guests at the event, but lamented that he could not attend the after parties since they were past his bedtime. David Koch, a great supporter of the ballet who salvaged it from insolvency, was excited by the performances of tonight which he had never viewed before. His pleasant and gentlemanly demeanor is rare for a man of his wealth and power, and he is a throwback to a different era exclaiming despite the lovelies at the Met gala, "my wife, Julia, is the most beautiful woman of all."
|Carol Mack, and Liz Peek|
Thanks to philanthropists such as Koch the ballet continues to thrive with an energy and vibrancy that is unparalleled. At the conclusion of the evening a DJ spun tunes that had all the elite in NY dancing side by side with the principal ballerinas. After most of the dinner attendees had left there was a dance-off with the female and male dancers pirouetting and jumping through the air until way past midnight. The excitement and electricity of this gala was a night in New York that is nearly impossible to replicate and one that I will never forget.
- Lieba Nesis