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Jennifer Garner is a self-professed ballet junkie.
As such, the Camping actress served as the master of ceremonies at the American Ballet Theatre’s Annual Holiday Benefit on Monday at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.
“It is my lifelong dream to be up here and celebrating the American Ballet Theatre, and lucky for all of you, I will not be dancing tonight, that’s my holiday gift,” she quipped in her introductory remarks.
Garner said she feels “like a little kid” when she watches ballet, and recalled watching ABT’s performance of The Nutcracker the previous night with her mouth agape. She announced that the proceeds from the event would go toward ABT’s education and engagement programs, impacting more than 18,000 children annually.
“Tonight we will be treated to a one-night only performance of classics and new works featuring the world’s most gifted dancers,” Garner continued. “I’ve enthusiastically, possibly creepily, followed and befriended many of them over the horrors of social media, but in this case it’s really worked for me.”
The company dancers presented excerpts from Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker (performed by Alexei Agoudine, Luis Ribagorda and Arron Scott) and Harlequinade (performed by Carlos Gonzalez, Sarah Lane, Stella Abrera and Thomas Forster). Garner showed a parodied trailer for the latter work with spliced-in clips of herself portraying the sleepy servant character, Pierrot.
The emcee also joked about her son’s confusion over the wordless nature of ballet: “ABT’s dancers tell deeply human stories without relying on words, or as my son, who is 6, said to me in the middle of The Nutcracker last night, he tiptoed over and said, ‘Mom, I don’t know if I get this movie, I’m not really getting the plot, they’re not talking!’”
The night also showcased dances from Antony Tudor’s The Leaves Are Fading (performed by Hee Seo and Cory Stearns), Don Quixote (performed by Isabella Boylston and Aran Bell) and Michelle Dorrance’s tap and ballet medley Dream Within a Dream (deferred), led by soloist Calvin Royal III.
Dancing a portion of Jessica Lang’s Garden Blue were Blaine Hoven and Misty Copeland, both of whom glided across the stage with abstract and acrobatic movements as they danced to music by Dvorak.
Copeland, who made history by becoming the ABT’s first black female principal dancer in 2015, recently made her feature-film debut in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. She also has appeared in such music videos as Prince’s “Crimson and Clover” and, most recently, Drake’s “Nice for What.”
Later on in the evening, Copeland traded in her pink unitard for a striped dress and jeweled choker as she and the other dancers greeted guests at their tables.
The American Ballet Theatre presents Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa through Dec. 23.
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