The Amer­i­can Bal­let The­ater Draws Marc Jacobs & Michael Kors To Star-Stud­ded Fall Gala

The Jewish Voice - - SPECIAL FEATURES - By: Lieba Ne­sis

The Amer­i­can Bal­let Th atre (ABT) held its an­nual fall gala at The David H. Koch Th ater Wed­nes­day Oc­to­ber 18, 2017 with cock­tails be­gin­ning at 5:30 PM. While this hap­pen­ing oc­curs every year there was noth­ing mun­dane about this evening as a bal­let gala this star-stud­ded hasn't oc­curred in years. The crowd was re­plete with celebri­ties, phi­lan­thropists, de­sign­ers, and artists who came out on a fall evening when there were at least four com­pet­ing events in­clud­ing the black-tie Ar­mory Gala.

The guests in­cluded: three il­lus­tri­ous de­sign­ers: Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and B Michael; three su­per­star artists: Rachel Fe­in­stein, Anh Duong and Ma­rina Abramovic; five su­per celebri­ties: Liev Schrieber, Sofia Cop­pola, Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal, Cicely Tyson and Cyn­thia Erivo; two mag­a­zine ed­i­tors: Hamish Bowles and Amy Ast­ley; Four sports stars: Vic­tor Cruz, Emeka Okafor, Mario Martinez and Corey Lewis; Four su­per­mod­els: Veron­ica Webb, Con­stance Jablon­ski, Sofi Sanchez and Liya Kebede-but who's count­ing.

The e were no short­age of so­cialites and phi­lan­thropists ei­ther, in­clud­ing: Dianna and Joe DiMenna, Deeda Blair, Charles and Karen Phillips, Anka Palitz, Jean and Martin Shafi off, Amy Fine Collins, Alis­son Sarofim, John Uten­dahl and Rad­mila Lolly, Jody and Sheila Grant, Star Jones, Su­san Fales Hill, Aerin Lauder, Mary El­iz­a­beth Snow and dozens of oth­ers.

This evening was all about "Kevin" and "Valentino" that be­ing Kevin McKen­zie the artis­tic di­rec­tor who was cel­e­brat­ing 25 years at ABT and Valentino Car­lotti a for­mer part­ner at Gold­man Sachs who was just named Global Head of Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment at Sotheby's and was re­ceiv­ing the Melville Straus Lead­er­ship Achieve­ment Award.

Valentino is one of those Re­nais­sance men who is a Trustee on the boards of Carnegie Hall, Th Guggen­heim Mu­seum, Amer­i­can Bal­let Th atre, Jazz at Lin­coln Cen­ter and The Stu­dio Mu­seum in Har­lem. He is also one of the hum­blest, kind­est most down-to-earth men I have ever met.

Car­lotti de­votes his life to phil­an­thropic causes while still be­ing a ma­jor player on Wall Street. He has been "part ad­viser, part bene­fac­tor" to African Amer­i­can prima bal­le­rina Misty Copeland play­ing a piv­otal role in her as­cent to su­per­star­dom through his con­nec­tions at Gold­man Sachs as leader of its in­sti­tu­tional client group in sales and trad­ing.

I am just cu­ri­ous if "Valentino Car­lotti" is his stage or birth name as when I orig­i­nally heard of him I was ex­pect­ing a Sophia Loren looka­like to ap­pear. Valentino has been one of the ini­ti­at­ing forces of Project Plie' a pro­gram de­voted to in­creas­ing racial and eth­nic rep­re­sen­ta­tion in bal­let and di­ver­si­fy­ing Amer­ica's bal­let com­pa­nies. Plie' was founded in Septem­ber 2013 and tonight we were shown a video of its far reach­ing ef­fects in bring­ing mi­nori­ties into the cur­rent pool of dancers with the help of Misty Copeland.

The special evening also paid homage to Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Kevin McKen­zie an­other soft spo­ken su­per­star who leads with lit­tle fan­fare. We were shown a film on his bril­liant ca­reer with prin­ci­pal dancer Her­man Cornejo re­mark­ing that McKen­zie taught him in­valu­able lessons, in­clud­ing the im­por­tance of mu­si­cal­ity in dance-forc­ing Cornejo to hum along with the mu­sic at times to sense the rhythm.

Kevin told me he was very ex­cited at the won­der­ful trib­ute he was given and felt his great­est ac­com­plish­ment was the hir­ing of chore­og­ra­pher Alexei Rat­man­sky as Artist-in-Res­i­dence in 2009.

This evening be­gan with the World Pre­miere of "The Gift" chore­ographed by Jes­sica Lang and danced by the young dancers from the Jac­que­line Kennedy Onas­sis School who were ex­quis­ite. We learned that 9 of the cur­rent prin­ci­pal dancers were cho­sen from the Jac­que­line Kennedy Onas­sis School a ma­jor feeder to ABT.

The next world pre­miere was "Songs of Bukov­ina" which was chore­ographed by Alexei Rat­man­sky and danced by Isabella Boyl­ston and Al­ban Len­dorf. The last act "Thi teen Di­ver­sions" chore­ographed by Christopher Wheel­don was given its world pre­miere at ABT in May 2011. This piece was my fa­vorite of the evening with Stella Abr­era and Misty Copeland re­gal­ing the au­di­ence with their in­cred­i­ble strength and flexi il­ity. This piece was per­fect for Misty whose sinewy mus­cles and pow­er­ful ath­leti­cism were dis­played in full force.

The bal­let ended at 8:15 PM without any in­ter­mis­sion. I no­ticed ABT has elim­i­nated in­ter­mis­sions from their per­for­mances on gala nights; per­haps so that the au­di­ence can at­tend the $2,500 din­ner at a timely hour. This seems log­i­cal how­ever, a brief pause al­lows guests to con­verse with those who might not be at­tend­ing the din­ner while cre­at­ing ex­cite­ment for the up­com­ing per­for­mances.

Nonethe­less, the din­ner be­gan ear­lier than ex­pected on the sec­ond fl or of the Koch Th ater which con­tained lovely pink and or­ange decor with pink roses and table­cloths adorn­ing the op­u­lent ta­bles. The de­signs adorn­ing the din­ner at­ten­dees were no less spec­tac­u­lar in­clud­ing some men in the mix.

Firstly, Vic­tor Cruz looked smash­ing in a Givenchy suit with Public School shoes. Cruz is about to an­nounce a ma­jor col­lab­o­ra­tion with a de­signer in the next year but was not yet able to re­veal the de­tails. Cruz said he was a ma­jor fan of Gucci's Alessan­dro Michele and re­cently par­tic­i­pated in its "DIY" pro­gram which means "de­sign it your­self." I had never heard of DIY and thought it was re­lated to drunk driv­ing but was glad Vic­tor shared this crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion with me.

An­other one of in­no­va­tor Michele's bril­liant ideas which al­lows the con­sumer to par­tic­i­pate in the de­sign­ing process with Cruz cus­tomiz­ing a bur­gundy and navy plaid Gucci suit. You learn some­thing new every day and tonight I learned two things with ma­jor phil­an­thropic per­son­al­ity Dianna DiMenna in­form­ing me that Wes Gor­don was con­sult­ing at Carolina Her­rera and she was look­ing for­ward to sam­pling some of the at­tire.

It's now time to call out just a cou­ple of my fa­vorite looks of the evening on the ladies and here they are: Amy Fine Collins in a smash­ing white and black El­iz­a­beth Kennedy Gown; Anh Duong in a fash­ion for­ward blue alta moda Dolce and Gab­bana pantsuit; Jean Shafi off in a stun­ning pink and sil­ver Os­car de la Renta gown that is this sea­son's; Star Jones in a gold gown fresh from Par-

is; Mary Snow who wore two dif­fer­ent gowns one of them be­ing a gor­geous Cavalli gold se­quined getup; Rad­mila Lolly in one of her own show­stop­ping de­signs; Ex­quis­ite Deeda Blair in Ralph Rucci; Anka Palitz in Monique Lhuil­lier: Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal bring­ing it home in a red Monse gown; Cyn­thia Erivo in a fab­u­lous red Zac Posen; Su­san Fales Hill in a spec­tac­u­lar B Michael gown; and my Aunt Bernice who looked pos­i­tively el­e­gant in a black pantsuit (I love her).

This list is by no means ex­haus­tive as there were hun­dreds of other lovely ladies who wowed and as­tounded-it's been a long night. At the con­clu­sion of the evening a DJ played my fa­vorite Michael Jackson and Madonna tunes as Michael Kors and Hamish Bowles danced up a storm with the an­nounce­ment that a record-break­ing $2 mil­lion had been raised.

At 10:30 PM the night con­cluded with guests head­ing home to get ready for to­mor­row's big night out- stay tuned.

The Young Dancers of Jac­que­line Kennedy Onas­sis School

Andy Barth, Chair­man of ABT Board, and Anka Palitz

Phi­lan­thropists Diana and Joe DiMenna

Bernice Schwartz - Bal­let af­fi­cionado and aunt of Lieba Ne­sis

Michael Kors with Dancer Daniil Simkin and Julie Granger

Jean Shafiroff in Os­car de la Renta (Credit for all pho­tos: Lieba Ne­sis)

Artist Rachel Fe­in­stein, Di­rec­tor Sofia Cop­pola and De­signer Marc Jacobs

Jewish Voice so­ci­ety, fash­ion & en­ter­tain­ment re­porter Lieba Ne­sis files a live report from the Amer­i­can Bal­let The­ater star stud­ded Fall gala

The room

Left to right: Dancers Wendy Whe­lan, Chris­tine Shevchenko, Scout Forsythe, Kel­ley Pot­ter, Robert Fairchild and Stella Abr­era

Chris­tian Zim­mer­mann, Richard Kielar, Jean Shafiroff, Misty Copeland, Valentino Car­lotti and Cyn­thia Erivo

Su­san Fales Hill wear­ing B Michael, Star Jones, Model Veron­ica Webb in Bal­main and De­signer B Michael

Foot­ball Player Vic­tor Cruz, Edi­tor-In-Chief Ar­chi­tec­tural Digest Amy Ast­ley, Model Liya Kebede and daugh­ter Raee

Star Jones, John Uten­dahl, Ta­tiana Lolly, Corey Lewis, Diggy Sim­mons and Rad­mila Lolly

Aerin Lauder, Mar­jorie and Jef­frey Rosen and Deeda Blair

Liya Kebede, Alexan­dre de Be­tak, Model Con­stance Jablon­ski and model Sofia Sanchez

Star Jones, Amy Fine Collins, Anne McNally, Anh Duong and Sut­ton Stracke

Nancy Walker and Alis­son Sarofim

Hon­oree Valentino Car­lotti and Suzanne Hall

Car­men Fox, Jody Grant and Sheila Grant

De­signer Adeam and Ju­lia Loomis in Adeam

Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Kevin McKen­zie

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