New York City Ballet Spring Gala

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New York City Ballet Spring Gala

nycb-1.jpgQueen Latifah

Ballet regulars perusing the invitation for Wednesday evening’s New York City Ballet Spring Gala, which was sponsored by Vacheron Constantin, might have noticed that Queen Latifah received top billing. Was the company luring another celebrity to bulk up their board, already sparkling with the presence of Sarah Jessica Parker? Or was the Queen simply a diehard ballet fan, despite her spotty attendance at such events? Turns out the answer was much simpler: since the theme of this year’s gala was “American Music Festival,” organizers had enlisted Latifah to sing George Gershwin’s “The Man I Love,” while Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar danced a romantic pas de deux.

nycb-3.jpgFrom left: Fe Fendi; Altuzarra and Valentino

“Do you think anyone here knows who Queen Latifah is?” one guest whispered to me. I’d say yes, judging from the blonde bouffant in pearls seated in front of me, who whooped it up for the singer like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert. Other highlights of the evening’s program included Jerome Robbins’s “Glass Pieces,” featuring a let’s-get-physical crew of shiny tight-clad men and the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s “A Place for Us,” danced by Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild who are newly engaged. Joseph Altuzarra made his own stage debut, having designed the costumes for the piece.

nycb-2.jpgTiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in costumes by Altuzarra

“We wanted something playful, but American,” he explained. “And of course we did a lot of tests because I don’t know how to move in those costumes!” Unbeknownst to just about everyone in the audience (including the designer), Peck’s strap came undone from its hook and eye 15 seconds before the performance’s end. No matter. She brushed off Altuzarra’s blushing apology with a smile—it wasn’t his fault, after all.

Photos: Julie Scarratt; Paul Kolnik

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