Inside American Ballet Theatre’s Chic Spring Gala

Notable guests Katie Holmes, Chai Vasarhelyi, Carly Cushnie and Ivy Getty, among many others, joined the company for a one-night-only preview performance, dinner and of course, dancing.

Aoki Lee Simmons. Yvonne Tnt/

In advance of American Ballet Theatre’s annual summer season kicking off at the Metropolitan Opera House next month, the company and its patrons headed downtown for a stylish—and perfectly pink—evening of dinner and dancing at New York City’s Cipriani 42nd Street. With the iconic venue transformed like magic into a theater for the night, ABT presented patrons with a sampling of its upcoming ambitious five-week program that will present a different full-length ballet every seven days. In addition to stunning snippets from favorites like Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, dancers Devon Teuscher, James Whiteside, Calvin Royal III and Chloe Misseldine performed excerpts from Wayne McGregor’s highly acclaimed Woolf Works. Inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf, the full-length contemporary ballet was first performed in 2015 by London’s The Royal Ballet, and is set to have its New York premiere with ABT on June 25.

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Stella Abrera and Susan Jaffe introduce the evening’s honoree. Yvonne Tnt/

Before the performance, a plush pink carpet and wall of glittering pink sequins led guests into the 12,000-square-foot ballroom, where there was a stage flanking the formal dinner set-up. Notable attendees included actress Katie Holmes, actress and model Anh Duong, designer Carly Cushnie, designer Cynthia Rowley, arts patron and entrepreneur Elizabeth Segerstrom, model Isabella Massenet with Prince Achileas-Andreas of Greece, heiress Ivy Getty, model Aoki Lee Simmons, philanthropist Lizzie Asher, The View’s Sunny Hostin and musician and composer Chloe Flower, among others.

Susan Jaffe and Stella Abrera, the artistic directors of ABT and the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (also both former dancers with the company) kicked off the festivities by introducing the evening’s honoree, filmmaker Chai Vasarhelyi. “The work my husband and I do might thrill some of you, but we are always thrilled by the beauty, athleticism and passion of this amazing dance company,” Vasarhelyi, whose documentary Free Solo earned her and her husband Jimmy Chin an Academy Award in 2019, told the assembled crowd. “The world is a tricky place right now,” she continued, “but hopefully, we’ll always be able to escape into the world of dance.”

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While highlighting works from the company’s upcoming season, which will open with John Cranko’s Onegin on June 18, the gala also raised funds for ABT—including education and outreach programs like the Make A Ballet initiative that provides arts education to underserved schools and communities. As always, the focus of the gala was squarely on dance, though that didn’t stop the evening’s dancers from donning pieces by Oscar de la Renta, Naeem Khan and Marchesa before their performances; consummate quick-change pros, they were soon in the costumes that would help them to transport the audience into the extraordinary realm of dance that continues to inspire Vasarhelyi and so many others.

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes. Yvonne Tnt/

Lilah Ramzi, Lizzie Asher and Casey Kohlberg

Lilah Ramzi, Lizzie Asher and Casey Kohlberg. Yvonne Tnt/

Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Yvonne Tnt/

Larry Milstein, Sharareh Siadat and Romilly Newman

Larry Milstein, Sharareh Siadat and Romilly Newman. Yvonne Tnt/

Mohar Chaudhuri and Michael Tommasiello

Mohar Chaudhuri and Michael Tommasiello. Yvonne Tnt/

Stella Abrera

Stella Abrera. Yvonne Tnt/

Nikki Haskell and Jean Shafiroff

Nikki Haskell and Jean Shafiroff. Yvonne Tnt/

Ian Kelly and Janet Eilber

Ian Kelly and Janet Eilber. Yvonne Tnt/

John Wattiker and Malcolm Carfrae

John Wattiker and Malcolm Carfrae. Yvonne Tnt/

Alessia Fendi and Lilah Ramzi

Alessia Fendi and Lilah Ramzi. Yvonne Tnt/

Emily Waters, Christopher Rudd, Sarah Arison and Dalia Oberlander

Emily Waters, Christopher Rudd, Sarah Arison and Dalia Oberlander. Yvonne Tnt/

Clinton Luckett

Clinton Luckett. Yvonne Tnt/

Audrey Freeman

Audrey Freeman. Yvonne Tnt/

John Wattiker, Sharareh Siadat and Malcolm Carfrae

John Wattiker, Sharareh Siadat and Malcolm Carfrae. Yvonne Tnt/

Crystal Kung Minkoff

Crystal Kung Minkoff. Yvonne Tnt/

Ivy Getty

Ivy Getty. Yvonne Tnt/

Britt Zunino and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Britt Zunino and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Yvonne Tnt/

Christine Shevchenko

Christine Shevchenko. Yvonne Tnt/

Charlotte Groeneveld

Charlotte Groeneveld. Yvonne Tnt/

Sai De Silva and Carly Cushnie

Sai De Silva and Carly Cushnie. Yvonne Tnt/

Inside American Ballet Theatre’s Chic Spring Gala