What It's Like to Attend the New York City Ballet's Fall Gala
When Sarah Jessica Parker co-chairs a gala, you know that it's going to be a night to remember. And that's the only way to describe the New York City Ballet's 2015 Fall Gala, which brought out stars like Jennifer Hudson, Ivanka Trump, and Jill Kargman to Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater last night. From the moment the red carpet began, we knew that we were in for a night filled with dazzling outfits, passionate discussions about the arts, and, of course, plenty of dancing.
Parker was ready to take in the entire experience of the evening right from the start. "To be an audience is amazing," she told InStyle before heading inside the Cartier-sponsored event, which premiered five new dances. For the fourth year in a row, fashion designers and choreographers teamed up to create costumes for the five performances, with the theme of the night being "From the Runway to the Ballet." This year's featured designers were Peter Copping for Oscar de la Renta, Humberto Leon, Marques'Almeida, ADEAM, and Zuhair Murad, who also designed Parker's gown for the gala.
Fashion certainly played a huge role in the evening, but Parker was also focused on the night's true purpose. "I’m excited about the collaborations, and that the dancers are having this opportunity," she said. "They love being a part of new ballets, and very often they’re then married into the repertoire, so it’s really great for the company." Parker's passion was evident. After walking the carpet with Murad, she was one of the last people to head inside, spending every last minute chatting about the organization that's so important to her. By the time that she finally headed inside, it was time for the dances to begin.
The first ballet, "Polaris," kicked off the performances with sparkling blue costumes designed by Murad. "I love dance, and I love movement," he said of working on the costumes. As for Rose McGowan (below) the night was all about performance number two, "The Blue of Distance." "My friend Harrison Ball is dancing in principal role tonight, and I’m here to support him," she said before reminiscing about her own history with the ballet. "I’m a former dancer, and I still have my first performance outfit. It doesn’t fit anymore, but it holds a dear place in my heart."
But not everyone in the audience had experience as a ballerina. Odd Mom Out star Jill Kargman (below) revealed that while she couldn't imagine taking the stage to perform such a dance, she's always been impressed by the dancers' constant poise—and their freshness. "I would be sweating buckets up there, and they just have slight dew," said Kargman. "They only have slight perspiration that can be taken away delicately."
After four seemingly sweat-free dances and one break for intermission, it was time for the fifth and last performance, "Thou Swell." Broadway stars Norm Lewis and Rebecca Luker sang classic hits throughout the almost 40-minute long performance, in which NYCB principal dancer Robert Fairchild (below, left)—who's currently starring in An American in Paris on Broadway—took the stage.
"I feel really excited to be here," he said. "I’ve done this role for about five years now, but I still had three or four rehearsals just for tonight." The stage was decked out with twinkling stars, a grand piano, and café tables for the most elaborate performance of the night. But most importantly, this ballet featured stunning looks by Peter Copping for Oscar de la Renta—and it felt like you were watching a mini-movie rather than a classic dance.
When the curtain finally fell, everyone headed up to the ballroom (above). Table numbers were printed on ballerina-shaped cards, and decorative globes that were suspended from the ceiling featured lit-up projections of dancers. Guests continued to sip on Ruinart champagne after supper was served, and Sarah Jessica Parker (below, right) held court on the dance floor, snapping photos with friends including Jennifer Hudson (below, left) and celebrating the event that she helped kick off in 2012.
"This year, we’ve exceeded our fundraising goals for the night which is really fantastic," she said of the $2.67 million raised for the New York City Ballet last night. "We’re now raising double what we did four years ago." And Parker is hopeful that the evening's success is a sign of things to come in a more general sense. "I think the recovery is happening in the arts, and I think that a lot of cultural institutions in the city are having that experience," she said. "I think that it's really good news for all of us, because we all benefit."