Bettina’s Take: ABT’s Opening Night Spring Gala

Jessica Stam

American Ballet Theatre's Opening Night Spring Gala is one of the most highly anticipated events of the season, and once again this year, the evening lived up to its promise.

The superb performance included pieces from Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Manon, and many others, and featured the best of ABT's dancers. Polonaise d'Enfants had its world premiere, and featured the most adorable, graceful children who had clearly put in the long hours and discipline it takes to be great dancers.

"I've been a supporter of ABT for 20 years!," said Co-Chair Sloan Barnett, gorgeous as ever in Valentino, who co-sponsored the evening with Graff. "And I'm especially committed to dance now that my 10 year old daughter has become a ballerina."

A chic and glamorous crowd, which included Jessica Stam (wearing Valentino and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry), Bebe Neuwirth, Wendy Williams, Nate Berkus, and Alek Wek made its way to the Bill Tansey-designed dinner in Damrosch Park.

Co-Chair Karin Luter flew in from Palm Beach, looking splendid in a gray sequined Dennis Basso dress.

Nina Rennert Davidson, ethereal in a dusty rose Valentino, also co-chaired.

"I chaired because my good friend Sloan asked me to, and I always help out a friend," said Davidson. "But I also think it's really important to show your children what it means to be a New Yorker, and to be philanthropic in New York. It means giving back to all of our wonderful institutions."

Junior Co-Chair Sarah Arison, no stranger to philanthropy, was stunning in a navy Valentino, and Prince Dimitri jewelry.

"I love the ballet,"said Arison. "I particularly love ABT because it blends the most beautiful classical ballet with incredible, cutting edge young choreographers, and brilliant designers such as Norma Kamali. It always brings something new and exciting to the stage. That's part of the reason I'm so excited for the partnership with Valentino at this year's Gala, because Valentino does a similar thing with its designs: they are classically beautiful, but always with a younger, new and exciting touch."

Although the tent was chilly when guests first arrived, the talented band heated things up very quickly and the dance floor was packed. The DJ kept things moving when the band left for the evening, as Christine Schwarzman, Susan Fales-Hill, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Peter Lyden and Deborah Norville showed us how it's done.

"That was really a beautiful evening," said Valentino's Carlos Souza.

Our group of four decided to forego the red velvet Sprinkles cupcakes that were given out as we exited. Now that's willpower.

Photo: Jessica Stam