A couple of years after joining the New York City Ballet’s board of directors, Sarah Jessica Parker initiated an annual collaboration between fashion designers and choreographers that helped add a jolt of energy to—and plenty of press for—the company’s fall extravaganza. Tuesday evening, the NYCB’s Fall Gala marked the five-year anniversary of Parker’s endeavors (as a vice chair of the board, she also served as co-chair of the event). A hot pink carpet snaked across Lincoln Center’s main plaza and a sprinkling of celebrities like Julianna Margulies and Diane Kruger added some extra spark to the New York social calendar mainstay.
The real intrigue, however, was onstage at the David H. Koch Theater, where four world premieres featured the choreographer-designer pairings of Lauren Lovette and Narciso Rodriguez, Justin Peck and Dries Van Noten, Peter Walker and Jason Wu and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Rosie Assoulin (the previously seen work Bal de Couture by Peter Martins, with costumes by Valentino, closed the night’s program).
“I don’t know that kind of stage! I’m like a behind-the-scenes kind of person,” said Wu during dinner, speaking about the bashful bow he took after his neon and lace creations had their moment. “It was happening at the same time as my spring collection, so a lot of it is very cohesive with what I’ve been doing.”
Assoulin was equally overcome by the grandeur of the setting.
“Leandra [Medine] looked at me at the very end of the ballet when it was over and was like, ‘Rosie, you’re just a girl from Brooklyn!’ which is exactly how it feels right now,” she said. “What are we doing inside this little jewel, inside this world of ballet? It’s so fun!”
The feeling, it appears, was mutual, from the perspective of at least one choreographer, Justin Peck. Over the years, he has worked with Mary Katrantzou and Humberto Leon, in addition to his partnership with Dries Van Noten for his current work The Dreamers.
“I feel like certain designers can take the choreography I start to build and emphasize certain aspects of it. And I think they really work to shape the piece through their contributions,” he said. “What’s cool is I’m able to forge personal relationships with these artists and I become invested in their evolution and their contributions to their form. So that’s really a special thing that comes from this.”
If things were starting to sound a bit like an ever-evolving marriage, well, Parker was more than happy to ring in her five years with ballet (which is a bit more graceful than the traditional fifth anniversary wood gift).
“I’ve just found the collaboration very spirited and very good for this company and very good for the designers who’ve joined us and are willing to do this,” she offered, though she won’t be spending too much time celebrating. “When you work for a cultural institution, you have to keep thinking, ‘What will be meaningful to audiences and what will be deserving of those big ticket prices that we ask? So tomorrow, we’ll have a call and we’ll get to work on 2017 starting tomorrow morning.”
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