While the New York City Ballet officially kicked off its 75th anniversary celebrations earlier last month, opening its fall season at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater with a performance of George Balanchine’s Jewels (and a curtain call that included more than 350 NYCB dancers both past and present), that was just the start of the season. On October 5, the company pulled out all the stops, hosting a star-studded gala that honored the company’s rich history while continuing to look toward the future. After gala chairs and insiders, including actress Naomi Watts and socialite Nicky Hilton, sipped on sparkling wine and cocktails from Chandon, Wagner Vineyards and Macallan as the sun set on the plaza, the array of couture-clad guests took their seats in the theater for a brief presentation marking the milestone anniversary.
“It has been 75 years of hard work, resulting in unquestionable magic,” said actress (and vice chair of NYCB’s board of directors) Sarah Jessica Parker when she took the stage. “Historically, this evening has included world premiere ballets, but tonight, we’re going vintage. We are drawing from the cannon of the great George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, who draw from our never sleeping, ever glistening New York,” she noted of the program, which paid tribute to NYCB’s co-founding choreographers with performances of Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Robbins’ Glass Pieces.
In keeping with the company’s fall fashion gala theme—an idea conceived by Parker in 2012, which pairs dance with original costumes by some of the world’s most famous fashion designers—Who Cares? received a modern update with colorful new costumes from Wes Gordon, the creative director at Carolina Herrera. Guest singers Patti LuPone, Vanessa Williams and Joshua Henry were also onstage for Who Cares?, and accompanied the dancers with a medley of the orchestra-led George Gershwin tunes that serve as the work’s soundtrack.
“These past 75 years have been transformative,” said NYCB associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, who was joined onstage by NYCB artistic director Jonathan Stafford. “Our mission is to never stop evolving. What was born as a European art form is now American, too—and an art form for all.”