July 22, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

American Ballet Theatre Gala

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ABT Principal Dancer Misty Copeland and ABT Dancer Alexandre Hammoudi performing “Romeo and Juliet.” All photos by Vince Bucci

We were delighted to attend the annual Holiday Benefit dinner at the Beverly Hilton, hosted by the American Ballet Theatre. This black tie event featured a one-night only special performance by the world-renowned artists of the company, including Principal dancers Stella Abrera, Misty Copeland, and Gillian Murphy dancing scenes from the company’s repertoire. The show was followed by a post performance dinner and dessert with the dancers.

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ABT Dancers (L-R) Betsy McBride, Paulina Waski and Rachel Richardson performing “The Sleeping Beauty.”

It was so charming and intimate, like having internationally-acclaimed performers at your own dinner party. We particularly enjoyed excerpts from “The Nutcracker” (in honor of the season), and “Her Notes,” with choreography by Jessica Lange. There is a shortage of female choreographers in ballet, and this was her first ballet for ABT. Even the musical score has a feminine touch. The composer, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, was the older sister of celebrated musician Felix Mendelssohn.

The climax of the evening was the Pas de Deux from “Romeo and Juliet.” Can you imagine a lovelier Juliet than Misty Copeland, falling into the arms of her Romeo, Alexandre Hammoudi? She made history as the first African-American ballerina to be promoted to principal dancer with ABT. She certainly raised the ‘barre’ in ballet.

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ABT Dancer Skyler Brandt performing “The Sleeping Beauty.”

At a separate event, the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors, held its 34th Annual Awards dinner at the Skirball Cultural Center. Many industry heavy-hitters were in attendance, and diversity was exemplified. The Caucus’ new motto is

“Leading the Evolution,” and it honored outstanding creative television and new media talent. Did you know that over $1.5 million has been awarded to 154 worthy students to complete their film, television or new media projects?

Kevin McKenzie, Cara Medoff Barnett, Benjamin Millepied
ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, ABT Execu- tive Director Kara Medoff Barnett and choreogra- pher and dancer Benjamin Millepied.

“Grace and Frankie,” “The Good Wife,” and “Roots” were among the big winners this year. Michael T. Fries, CEO of Liberty Global was lauded as Caucus Executive of the Year, and a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Producer Kevin Bright. Other honorees included Roy Price (Amazon Studios), Producer Stephanie Allain (Homegrown Pictures) and Frank Chindamo (Fun Little Movies.)

Kudos to Caucus Chairs Robert Papazian and Tanya Hart for recognizing such high quality honorees that exemplify excellence in the entertainment industry.

 

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