Nicholas Hoult, Vanessa Kirby Celebrate the Arts at American Friends of Covent Garden Dinner

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Nicholas Hoult

Contemporary ballet and classical opera filled the night at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills.

An archway comprising hundreds of crimson roses welcomed arts enthusiasts and celebrities to the American Friends of Covent Gardens annual dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills. 

Celebrating 50 years of supporting the arts across the pond at the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet in the United Kingdom, the Wednesday night event included ballet and opera performances by some of the U.K.’s finest artists. Dancers contorted their flexible bodies to classical music and opera singers sustained high notes on the stage situated into the middle of the hotel’s Jean-Georges Beverly Hills.

Among the audience of 200 were Hollywood names who share personal connections with Covent Garden's mission, including Nicholas Hoult, who said he danced ballet growing up, and Hobbs and Shaw’s Vanessa Kirby, who talked with The Hollywood Reporter about being surrounded by the arts in the United Kingdom as a child. 

Kirby told THR that though she wasn’t the best dancer, she grew up as a “theater kid,” which then introduced her to the opera world. For Kirby, being exposed to the rich cultural scene of the U.K. also meant being exposed to the country’s history. 

“It’s the history of our country so I feel like it’s just as important to support the opera house as it is any theater and make sure that it’s accessible and still available as much as possible,” she said. 

Other attendees didn’t have a personal connection to the Royal Opera House or Royal Ballet, but said they wanted to support the arts as much as possible, like Lucifer’s Lesley-Ann Brandt. The actress said that she sees importance in supporting the fine arts, as it holds value for later generations.

“I think of my son actually when I think of art, the ballet, the opera,” she said. “Exposure for him at this age is really important to us, and we’re just happy to celebrate it and be here.”

Attendees helped themselves to cocktails inspired by the ballet and opera numbers, such as the hibiscus cherry spritz dubbed “Swan” and the “Court of Vienna” cranberry mimosa. 

Wallis Annenberg received the evening’s honor for her support for the nonprofit’s mission of supporting fine arts in the United Kingdom. The renowned philanthropist stated that the fine arts are just an essential part of life, no less important than “the water we drink and the air we breathe.”

"Supporting the arts has been an instinct for me, a reflex. I simply couldn’t live without it and I couldn’t live without a community of people who share it with me,” she said to the evening’s audience.

Annenberg ended her speech by doing exactly what she was honored for: giving. She donated $500,000 to Covent Garden to sustain the organization’s mission. 

After a combination of seven ballet and opera numbers, guests headed to the restaurant’s eating area, where they feasted on food from bento boxes and looked at various sequined and bedazzled tutus on display from the Royal Ballet’s performances.