American Ballet Theater Summer Gala

July 05, 2022 8:09 PM

Spring/Summer of 2022 has seen a rushing return of events, dressing up, and the social calendar. Especially in New York City, there has been no shortage of charity balls, formal galas, and themed parties which have been attended with enthusiasm, expression through fashion, and… vaccination checks. In Manhattan, there are a few events that are especially coveted amongst New Yorkers. While the Met Gala has a universal reach, certain black-tie affairs are tied to the most elite members of Manhattan society’s reverence for culture, the arts, and those dedicated to such a beautiful craft. 

American Ballet Theater was founded in 1939 (pre-dating NYC Ballet) and has been at the forefront of innovation and inclusion for ballet, on a global scale. Not just in maintaining a balanced focus for male and female dancers, but also in driving inclusion of all races and nationalities and this year… will be the first ballet company to have a female CEO as well as a female Artistic Director.This will be a  after 30 years of incredible leadership by Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie who has driven the company forward with passion, vision, and kindness; all of which was present in the opening remarks from the board,his statement, and principals of the company. CEO, Janet Rolle came to American Ballet Theater after her leadership role, managing Parkwood Entertainment, Beyonce’s media and management company… which was portrayed poorly by media, calling Janet an “Associate” 

ABT’s June Gala is a signature event that brings together celebrities, patrons of the arts, members of the ballet and modern dance community, and some of the most cultured individuals of New York City. This event was the first gala since 2019 and saw an impressive red carpet, a flawless performance, and an evening that truly was an example of a return to social events at their finest.Guests included:  Anna Chlumsky, Anna Page, B Michael, Carly Cushnie, Cassie Beck, Eric Rutherford, Gabriella Uhl, Jessica Lang, Jessica Pels, Mark-Anthony Edwards, Olivia Palermo & Johannes Huebl, Savvy Shields Wolfe, Shelby Roebock, and Tracy Anderson,

Gala Structure

American Ballet Theater’s June Gala saw an array of glamorous guests walking the red carpet on their way to the champagne reception at sunset. Fashions of the evening focused on floor length gowns with volume and trains, (Olivia Palermo wore an ethereal floor length white gown and cape by designer Needle & Thread)  modern silhouettes and bright colors such as goldenrod, crimson, and hot pink (Principal dancer Erica Lall and Trustee Susan Falles Hill photo), and timeless classics of structured silk, rich beading, and opera gloves, the crowd was full of life, color, and excitement.The bar-bell rang to invite all gala and ballet guests to be seated for the 6:30 performance of Don Quixote. The ballet was split into three acts, showcasing different principals as the leading roles in each act and a second conductor leading the orchestra for the second act. Every aspect of this performance added to an experience of absolute beauty, almost creating a feeling of a saturated filter as the music, choreography, costumes, and scenery all came together in a way that was brilliant, colorful, and captivating. 

Following the performance and well deserved standing ovation for the incredible opening night performance, the gala began with guests shifting over to the Koch theater where a seated dinner was set with lovely decorations with purple themes, fresh flowers, and table decor that was dramatic and elegant. Djs were present throughout the evening, ramping up to some classic dance tracks after dessert had been served. The three course menu included a burrata appetizer with fresh summer vegetables and warm brioche, a main dish of cod and seasonal vegetables and a dessert tray with tartlets and petite bonbons. A crisp and refreshing white wine that almost had elements of the summertime classic of vino verdhe and a Stag’s Leap medium bodied red were offered as well as other cocktail options. The gala guests ranged across profession and age with a number of families being present, and special guests Olivia Palermo and Johannes Heubl seated at the center table. Dancing and conversation continued until the event came to an end as the clock struck twelve. Being able to converse with CEO Janet Rolle was a distinct pleasure of the evening, and her passion for the company and confidence in a bright future was demonstrative of her vision and leadership. The future for American Ballet Theater could not be brighter. 


As a prelude to the performance, opening remarks were made by Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie, Trustee, Susan Falles- Hall, Principal Dancer: Erica Lall, and 

I disagree with NY Times writer, Gia Kourlas, and her reference to the opening performance of the summer season and celebratory gala as “gimmicky” and the curtain delayed by “rambling speeches”. While the comment on the choice of having different leads for each act not allowing the audience to develop an understanding of the characters has complete merit, this production’s colorful and comedic presence celebrated the return of the June Gala, opening performance of the summer season after the pandemic, and the upcoming retirement of Kevin McKenziewho had choreographed Don Quixote in 1995. Thirty years as Artistic Director for one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world is no small accomplishment, with an expansive impact on the company, aspiring dancers, and audiences of a Lincoln Center stage. Dancers that played leading roles throughout the performance were Catherine Hurlin, Aran Bell, Devon Teuscher, Thomas Forster, Hee Seo, Joo Won Ahn, Katherine Williams, Calvin Royal III, Christine Shevchenko, Daniel Camargo, Cassandra Trenary and Gabe Stone Shayer. Daniel Camargo was a final addition, yet his ability to execute height on all jumps and while the last minute urgency was apparent, each turn, lift, and facial expression reflected both Camargo and Shevchenko’s commitment to the opening performance. Camargo will also perform the leading role of Romeo in the upcoming ballet of Romeo and Juliet.




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