Valentino and Gilles Mendel were among some of the fashion names who celebrated the New York City Ballet's 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center at its annual spring gala, held at the David H. Koch Theater on Thursday night. But in contrast to the design-related spotlight that shined at the company's fall gala, the focus remained on its milestone birthday.
Prabal Gurung, alongside Caroline Issa, told Pret-a-Reporter that even though he made his first foray into theater costume work when collaborating with choreographer Justin Peck and the New York City Ballet last September (which featured dancers in fashion-friendly harnesses and was set to Lukas Foss’ Capriccio for cello and piano), he wouldn't say that he's part of the NYCB family. "I feel privileged that they would even invite me!" he laughed of returning to Lincoln Center -- also the site of New York Fashion Week -- without any designer duties. "I'm just a really enthusiastic spectator in the audience tonight."
Costume designer Catherine Martin, wearing Chanel, noted that she loves the ballet because of the lack of production design on the stage. "It's the beauty and the the artistry of the dancer, and what you can do with no scenery and people who are almost naked. The kind of images and pictures you can conjure are always surprising and evocative." As a longtime ballet fan, Martin also noted what she'd like attend in the years ahead: "I think I'd want to see them reinterpret classics and make them relevant to a younger generation."
The milestone evening began with a short video outlining the construction of David H. Koch Theater, and had Peter Martins reunite dancers from the company's inaugural season at Lincoln Center: Jacques d’Amboise, Suzanne Farrell, Jillana, Allegra Kent, Sara Leland, Conrad Ludlow, Kay Mazzo, Patricia McBride, Arthur Mitchell, Mimi Paul, Suki Schorer, Violette Verdy, Edward Villella, Karin von Aroldingen and Patricia Wilde. After the audience took part in George Balanchine's traditional vodka toast (guests were given plastic shot glasses and small bottles of Georgi vodka upon entering the theater), the orchestra reprised Igor Stravinsky's "Fanfare for a New Theater" (composed for the theater's opening), and Kristen Bell and Aaron Lazar performed "If I Loved You" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 Broadway musical Carousel (which was performed at the theater's 1964 inaugural performance).
The company's principal dancers then took the stage in sea-green, pink and white costumes for Balanchine's "Allegro Brillante" (created in 1956 to music by Peter Tschaikovsky) and premiered Peck's commissioned work, "Everywhere We Go," a flirty, joyous and tragic 40-minute ballet featuring 25 dancers in costumes by Janie Taylor, a geometric backdrop by Karl Jensen and music by Sufjan Stevens. Guests then gathered for dinner from Glorious Food, served among decor of white flowers and candles by DeJuan Stroud and followed by a performance by Donna D'Cruz. The evening was also attended by James Lipton, Indre Rockefeller, journalists Lesley Stahl and Deborah Norville, Catfish's Nev Schulman, among others.