On an evening when the skies were dumping rain on the city below, the American Ballet Theatre’s Fall Gala opened with sunny yellow: A pair clad in the color spun a pas de deux in the opening performance, “Theme and Variations” by George Balanchine, while other dancers were dressed in the pinks of the sunset hidden from view by storm clouds. Next, a duo jazzily soft-shoed the New York premiere of Jessica Lang’s “Let Me Sing Forevermore,” set to tunes by Tony Bennett—who was in the audience.
The performances concluded with the world premiere of a new work by Twyla Tharp, “A Gathering of Ghosts,” created in celebration of ABT principal dancer Herman Cornejo’s 20 years with the company. Costumes by Norma Kamali could have been straight off the spring runways: snake print, slinky jumpsuits, a silver-sequined hoodie-and-bike shorts combo.
Nate Berkus drew laughs from the crowd while introducing Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, the night’s honoree in recognition of her empowerment of women in leadership roles and her dedication to diversity within her company. “Cruises were never really my thing,” Berkus confided. “Frozen yogurt…germs….” (Don’t worry: He got over it and went on to become an ambassador for Celebrity.)
Daniel Boulud, the celebrity chef, was in attendance, according to Lutoff-Perlo, but we didn’t spot him at the dinner following the performance—he seemed to have skipped out before enjoying the beet salad and the chicken with brussels sprouts.
Hamish Bowles looked dapper in black-and-gold Haider Ackermann. He was among the first to hit the dance floor later in the evening, soon joined by Anh Duong, in caftan-like Dolce & Gabbana couture. Nearby, Katie Holmes, looking sleek in a silky pumpkin-hued slip dress, doled out hugs and cheek kisses.
Indre Rockefeller wore same vivid pink dress by Carolina Herrera she donned for Quest’s September cover. “She hasn’t taken it off,” quipped Paul Arnhold, husband of Wes Gordon, Carolina Herrera’s creative director.
Bright pink was one of the most popular colors of the evening. Calvin Royal III, an ABT soloist, wore a shocking pink Alexander McQueen suit, while Kara Medoff Barnett, the company’s executive director; looked lovely in fuchsia. Other notable looks included dancer Gabe Stone Shayer, in a shimmering gold custom look from Dapper Dan, and Cosmopolitan editor in chief Jessica Pels, an ABT alum herself, in frothy green; she spent much of the night talking with dancer Connor Holloway, who wore a multicolored starburst of metallic fake eyelashes and a leather harness. Jordan Roth, hair swirled into a high bun, wore high-heeled spectator pumps and toted a dachshund-shaped Hector bag by Thom Browne.
One of the standout gowns of the evening was worn by ABT soloist Katherine Williams, with a skirt featuring subtle embroidered ballerinas. It was from the spring/summer 2016 ballet-themed collection by couture house Yanina; Daria Yanina, the designer’s daughter, donned a frock from the same collection with similarly embroidered dancers. “It’s from childhood,” designer Yulia Yanina told me, regarding the collection’s inspiration. “I think every child wants to be a ballet dancer.”