Sofia Carson Honored at 2019 Los Angeles Ballet Gala

Sofia Carson Los Angeles Ballet Gala - Getty - H 2019
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Adam Shankman and Nigel Lythgoe were also in attendance Thursday evening to fete L.A. Ballet.

Dancers twisted, leaped and pirouetted across the stage of the Beverly Hilton on Thursday night, where such dance luminaries as Nigel Lythgoe, Adam Shankman and Kenny Ortega gathered to celebrate the 2019 Los Angeles Ballet Gala. The gala supports Los Angeles Ballet, which is the city's only ballet company.

In addition to raising funds for the upcoming season, the gala honored Sofia Carson with the Los Angeles Ballet Ambassador Award and Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health, with the Global Impact Award.

Carson, who arrived in a red gown with an eight-foot-long train, told THR about why it was so important to her to support the organization.

“I put on my first pair of ballet slippers when I was three years old and it changed my life forever. When I was a young girl, I promised myself that if ever I was lucky enough to do what I loved for a living I would do everything that I could to give this chance to another little girl," she said. "So, when I got involved with the LA Ballet five years ago and heard about the program Chance to Dance, it moved me so much and it struck a chord and it's such a beautiful thing because I know firsthand how it changes lives.”

The evening began with a cocktail reception, where guests had the opportunity to bid on a number of luxury items, such as a river cruise through Europe, sports memorabilia signed by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson, and artwork by Banksy.

Shankman told THR why ballet was essential for anyone who appreciates dance. “It’s foundational. I take part in so much varied dance and so much of my career has been about the perpetuating of the street dance form, but I am from and appreciate most classical dance," he said. "It’s like having a bunch of frosting without cake. If we don’t have the ballet, we don’t have the foundation.”

The evening began with a stunning performance of Balanchine’s Serenade, which is featured in Los Angeles Ballet’s current production. Dozens of dancers performed the stirring piece and they were greeted with rapturous applause from the audience.

Shankman served as the host for the evening and in addition to celebrating the ballet he spent time roasting his friend and fellow dancer Lythgoe, telling the audience, “now ballet is considered by some to be old school and stodgy, but I say ‘that’s not ballet, that’s Nigel Lythgoe.'”

Speaking with THR, Lythgoe said that he supported Los Angeles Ballet not only because of their performances, but also for their outreach programs to diverse communities.

“I love their outreach program, Chance to Dance. That’s why I’m really supporting them tonight. For me the outreach program that they have is really important. It touches children’s lives...I went down to join a school in Watts with LA Ballet to see how they were teaching the kids there and it touched their lives and who knows how it will affect them.”

In addition to the speeches and performances, there was also a live donation portion of the evening, where guests raised white feathers to signal their donation, which raised over $300,000 for Los Angeles Ballet.

In total, the gala raised almost $1 million to support LA Ballet's upcoming season and outreach programs.