What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to witness the American Ballet Theatre performing excerpts from The Nutcracker and Swan Lake? Just entering The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills makes you feel like the holidays exist in Los Angeles. Skinny white Christmas trees dangle with faux icicles. A dancer dressed as a toy soldier flits around to take photos with guests. Bulbous Christmas trees are donned with red bows. Girls decked out in glitter pantsuits and fake fur jackets are eager to attend a night at the ballet.
This was the 5th year we attended the American Ballet Theatre’s Annual Holiday Benefit Monday, December 16, 2019, reminding us of the beauty and magic of the ballet and the holiday season even when winter feels so far away from LaLaLand.
The one-night-only special dance program with world-renowned dancers Misty Copeland, Isabella Boylston, Christine Shevchenko, Cory Stearns, and Devon Teuscher included 8 breathtaking performances from the Company’s extensive repertoire – Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Of Love and Rage, New American Romance, A Time There Was, and more.
The montage of excerpts performed by 23 dancers showcased classic and new to world ballet. Besides the holiday classic The Nutcracker, created by celebrated choreographer and ABT Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky, guests received a special sneak preview from Ratmansky’s new, original full-length ballet, Of Love and Rage, which will have its World Premiere at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA on March 5, 2020. ABT Principal Dancer, and the evening’s emcee, James Whiteside also gave us a taste of an excerpt from New American Romance.
After the special performances, a salmon filet dinner followed with a grandiose dessert buffet while dancers sat and exchanged conversation with guests. Honorary Chair and American Ballet Theatre’s number one fan Jennifer Garner unexpectedly couldn’t attend this year, but she made an appearance anyway. The evening began with an entertaining video of Garner dressed as a toy soldier from the Nutcracker “helping” the dancers to get ready for a show. Proceeds from the Holiday Gala night support American Ballet Theatre and its educational programs.
Notable guests included Jane Seymour, Leslie Ann Warren, Nigel Lythgoe, David Lim and wife Marketa Lim, Margaret Judson, Carly Hughes, Rachel Roy and daughter Tallulah, Tricia Helfer, Kym Johnson Herjavec, Meg DeLoatch, Kaitlyn Ohashi, and Valorie Kondos Field. Gala Chairs included Avery and Andrew F. Barth (Chairman of the Board of Governing Trustees, ABT), Mark Casey and Carrie Gaiser Casey, Yongsoo Huh, Laine Siklos, Robin A. Ferracone and Stewart R. Smith, and Sutton Stracke.
You can still see American Ballet Theatre’s annual engagement of Alexei Ratmansky’s critically acclaimed production of The Nutcracker now until December 22 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. This beloved classic brings a cast of more than 100 performers to the stage and features dazzling sets and costumes by Tony Award® winner Richard Hudson, accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s timeless score.
For 80 years, American Ballet Theatre has been home to ballet’s legendary stars, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova, Alessandra Ferri, Julio Bocca, Paloma Herrera, Angel Corella, Julie Kent, Ethan Stiefel, and many others – and is renowned for its lavish productions of full-length ballets including Swan Lake, Giselle, La Bayadèreand Romeo and Juliet. With a Company of the world’s most celebrated dancers, ABT performs for audiences of more than 400,000 each year in New York City, Southern California, across the United States and around the world. On April 27, 2006, by an act of Congress, American Ballet Theatre was named America’s National Ballet Company®.