The School of American Ballet 2015 Winter Ball

Jean Shafiroff and Chelsea Clinton
(All photos Lieba Nesis)

The School of American Ballet held its winter gala at the David H. Koch Theater on paradoxically, one of the first balmy evenings of the past few months. This black-tie event is a highlight of the social calendar for the elite of New York and Greenwich and the immense crowd contained over 500 of the aristocracy of Manhattan. The sartorial attire was nothing short of spectacular, with women clad in Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Kaufman Franco, Dennis Basso and Milly gowns.

Chair Amanda Brotman and actress Caroline Lagerfelt

Furthermore, the creativity of the attire was edgy, fashion forward and classy all at once, an eclectic crowd that was fashion conscious without being self conscious. Caroline Lagerfelt, a French actress currently appearing in the television show “Gotham” who recently attended the Cannes Film Festival, told me she preferred the fashion tonight due to the “daring wit and humor” of the New York crowd. Plaudits to these outstanding New Yorkers for putting the Golden Globe and Academy Awards crowd to shame without the use of a team of stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists.

Women donning Van Cleef clover necklaces

Van Cleef and Arpels sponsored the gala for the eighth year in a row, and there were women wearing masks and black uniforms donning the famous Van Cleef clover necklaces stationed throughout the lobby. The cocktail hour, which started at 7PM, was attended by Chelsea Clinton and her husband Marc Mezvinsky who were socializing with former prima ballerina Darci Kistler and her husband Peter Martins, along with socialites Julia and David Koch, Jean and Martin Shafiroff, Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, and Dr. Susan Krysiewicz and her husband Thomas Bell.

Hannah Bibb editor at Cosmo and Kristie Dash editor at Lucky

There were also numerous fashion editors present from Cosmopolitan, Lucky, and Haute Living who added some diversity to the crowd with blue and red-hued hairdos coupled with bright gowns and vintage attire. Julia Koch, who arrived fashionably late in an extremely fashionable white Kaufman Franco ensemble said, [we] “love supporting the school because they train the best dancers in the world.” Furthermore, she was looking forward to the advanced students surprising the audience with a ballet specially crafted for this evening. On that note, the crowd was summoned upstairs for a delectable dinner with a spectacular view of Lincoln Center in its entirety, and a delightful performance by the young dancers of SAB.

David and Julia Koch

The Promenade room was filled with vibrant bright pink, red and orange decorations a nod to the Pop Art era and 1970’s, creating a festive and whimsical atmosphere conducive for a dance event. Peter Martins, the artistic director of the New York City Ballet paid homage to master George Balanchine and said he was “eternally grateful to Mr. B for what he taught me and for giving me the spirit to continue thriving.” Martins then recounted the incredible friendship between Claude Arpels and George Balanchine and how thankful he was to have Van Cleef maintaining this relationship in its sponsorship of the event.

Young dancers

It was then announced that the evening had raised over $1.3 million dollars to support the $2 million dollar yearly scholarship program.  A short film was then shown of three ABT students who were excelling in the school’s classes who spoke of their love of dance and how difficult it was to achieve perfection. The young dancers then entertained the crowd with the boys in their multicolored t-shirts leaping and pirouetting with ease and the girls in their colorful leotards astounding the crowd with their exuberant dancing and enthusiasm. At the conclusion of their piece, which was choreographed by New York City Ballet dancer Peter Walker, the Diana Ross disco song “I’m Coming Out” began to play and the crowd “came out” of their chairs to get down with Darci Kistler, Peter Martins, and scores of prima ballerinas.

Chairman of SAB Max Shulman dancing with Darci Kistler

As the evening concluded I bumped into SAB Chairman Max Shulman who said, “what you saw tonight is the essence of the School of American Ballet-identifying young talent who will be the next generation of stars.” The excitement of this stellar gala is largely due to the beauty of the young dancers, whose graceful movements deserve to be rewarded on an annual basis.

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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