Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) ABT Gala

Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Monday, May 22 the American Ballet Theatre hosted its annual Spring Gala, featuring the New York premiere of Whipped Cream, a new ballet by ABT Artist-in-Residence Alexei Ratmansky.

The whimsical evening featured the full-length performance in the ABT’s home at the Metropolitan Opera House, followed by a dinner and dancing on the promenade at the David H. Koch Theater.

The celebrations honored Blackstone President Hamilton E. James for his support of the ABT. “If Tony could dance, he would be a prima ballerina assoluta,” joked honorary chair Caroline Kennedy as she introduced her friend.

With costume and set designs by Mark Ryden in his first theatrical undertaking, the ballet tells the story of a young boy who becomes ill after eating too much candy in a Viennese pastry shop. As he tries to escape from his doctor, the boy imagines that he is rescued by Princess Praline and her court.

The surrealist production is set to a “lost” score by Richard Strauss. The ballet originally premiered in the Vienna State Opera as Schlagobers on May 9, 1924, with choreography by Heinrich Kröller. Ratmansky discovered the music almost three decades ago. Whipped Cream had an initial run in California before coming to New York this month.

“[Being a gala co-chair] means a lot to me because I’m a huge fan of ABT and I know what goes into being a dancer and a ballerina,” said Katie Holmes on the red carpet. “I am very excited to support.” Holmes danced as a child, noting, “I have such great respect. You can’t fake it as a dancer.”

Fellow co-chair Nicky Hilton Rothschild echoed that sentiment. “I was a ballerina growing up, so I love coming to the ballet.”

While not all in attendance were former ballerinas, guests broke out their best dance moves after dinner, with many of the performers joining them on the dance floor, in costume.

“It was a little stressful, obviously but exciting at the same time,” said principal dancer Daniil Simkin of the New York premiere. “It was nice to have performed it in Orange County before. It’s a great ballet that brings together both great ballet and great art.

“Alexi always pushes you,” he continued. “And you push yourself so you always end up on a higher lever than you were before.”

Also in attendance were Blake Lively, Star Jones, Kara Medoff Barnett, Eric Rutheford and Misty Copeland.

Whipped Cream runs through July 1.

For more coverage of the ABT Gala, click here.


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by Debbie BancroftPhotographed by Griffin Lipson and Hunter Abrams/