New York City Ballet Fall Gala Merges Fashion and Dance

The room of cascading flowers
All photos Lieba Nesis
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The New York City Ballet held its Annual Fall Gala on September 28, 2017 at the David Koch Theater with cocktails beginning at 5:30 PM. This event, which is the brainchild of Sarah Jessica Parker, merges fashion and ballet by allowing renowned designers to create costumes for the dancers.

Jean Shafiroff, Michele Herbert, Patricia Shiah and Barbara Tober

There was a noticeable electricity in the air as guests were anxiously anticipating what Virgil Abloh of Off-White and Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim from Oscar de la Renta had planned. The excited crowd included luminaries: Keri Russell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Andy Cohen, Malin Akerman, Jess Cagle, and Mikhail Baryshnikov; as well as philanthropists Liz Peek, Jean Shafiroff, Fe Fendi, Mary Snow, Michele Herbert and many others.

Fe Fendi, Liz Peek and Monica Wambold

The first act opened with the World Premiere of “The Wind Still Brings” with costumes by Jonathan Saunders. The pink and blue striped leotards and blue tights were very “American Apparel” and gave the dancers an ease of movement. The choreography by Troy Schumacher was fun with sparse music and a large repertoire of dancers.

Dancer Ashley Bouder and Peter de Florio

The next premiere “Composer’s Holiday” was more exciting with black and white costumes designed by Virgil Abloh and choreography by Gianna Reisen. This was Reisen’s first-ever work and she did a remarkable job.

Karen Murphy, Bobby and Phoebe Tudor

The accompanying costumes of black, white and blush tutus of the women and black lace ensembles of the men were unembellished but pretty.  Abloh is the New “it designer” and his competency was readily apparent. The dancers moved with grace and ease performing such crowd pleasing stunts as ballerinas stepping on men’s backs and floating in the air.

Mary Elizabeth Snow and Joachim Bader

The next act, the world premiere of “Not Our Fate” was my favorite technically and the costumes were black and white once again with black jackets and white full skirts adorning the ballerinas who were dressed by the Oscar de la Renta label. This act was modern and dramatic with men partnering other men and at one point women doing the same. The music by Michael Nyman was exhilarating and the crowd loved the pairing of the dancers.

Costume designer Tsumori Chisato

My favorite costumes of the evening were in the last act called “Pulcinella Variations”. Designed by Tsumori Chisato the clothing was fun and outstanding while still allowing the dancers to move. This was the only act where the costumes were the focal point with painted and checkered tights and colorful half tutus astounding the audience who applauded enthusiastically.

Reggie Van Lee, Debra Martin Chase, Meria Carstarphen and David Heleniak

Chisato was hands down the designing star of the evening-producing a feast for the eyes that was incredible. After a nearly two-hour performance without any intermission, guests headed to the second floor for an elaborate dinner where cascading flowers adorned the magnificent room; a harbinger of the exciting gala season which awaits.

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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