American Ballet Theatre Holiday Gala with Misty Copeland & dazzling dancers

 Ballet lovers rejoiced as acclaimed dancers performed at the American Ballet Theatre’s annual Holiday Gala 2019.

ABT’s Misty Copeland & Blaine Hoven perform Swan Lake (photo by Vince Bucci)

 The dazzling American Ballet Theatre (ABT) dancers were featured in scenes from the company’s extensive repertoire during the gala event at the Beverly Hilton on December 16. It was emceed by ABT principal dancer and emerging choreographer, James Whiteside, plus principal dancer Misty Copeland, the ballet world’s superstar darling.

 Whiteside welcomed everyone and said, “It’s the time of year to celebrate our blessings and reflect on what makes us grateful. I am truly grateful to be living my dream at ABT. Thank you for supporting us, and for allowing Misty, me, and all of our colleagues to train, create, and perform.”

 He added a profound thought about the performing arts bringing people and communities together at a time when isolation and divisiveness are pervasive in our world. Whiteside noted, “ABT connects us all through the power of dance.”

 Copeland said, “Tonight you are treated to a one-night-only performance featuring our colleagues who are among the world’s most gifted artists and athletes. We hail from 25 states and 17 other countries, and we love that Southern California is our second home. It’s my actually home where I was raised and I’m so happy to come here year after year for the holiday season.”

Misty Copeland (photo by Vince Bucci)

 It was a treat to see Copeland perform at the gala. She was mesmerizing, as always, matched in strength with Blaine Hoven performing a pas de deux from “Swan Lake.” She floated like a feather, and put passion and pain into her performance. Speaking of pain, this reporter noted that Misty was wearing “killer heels” at the after-party. She gushed, “Oh yes, I love wearing killer high heels because I’m short.” They also show off the prima ballerina’s great legs.

 Misty talked about the proceeds from the Holiday Gala supporting American Ballet Theatre’s educational programs which gave her the training to become a world-renowned dancer. And she praised her co-emcee James Whiteside after everyone enjoyed his clever choreography for “New American Romance,” with Katherine Williams, Isadora Loyola, and Stephanie Williams dancing in sweet harmony.

ABT’s Catherine Hurlin & Aran Bell (photo by Vince Bucci)

 Another highlight was a jazzy number “Let Me Sing Forevermore,” choreography by Jessica Lang, featuring songs by Tony Bennett, with dancers Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell flying to the moon, hitting the notes from Bennett’s longtime pianist Ralph Sharon right on the money.  

A group of 23 dancers performed 8 movements, and other acclaimed principal dancers from ABT included Isabella Boylston and Christine Shevchenko. Cory Stearns and Devon Teuscher performed an excerpt from “The Nutcracker,” created by choreographer and ABT Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky. It was presented by ABT at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa before Christmas. Plus there was a preview of Ratmansky’s new original ballet, “Of Love and Rage,” which will have its World Premiere at the Segerstrom on March 5, 2020.

Nigel Lythgoe & Lesley Ann Warren (photo by Vince Bucci)

 For 80 years, American Ballet Theatre has been home to ballet’s legendary stars, including Mikhail Baryshnikov. And happily on hand to support the ABT were Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance), Kym Johnson Herjavec (Dancing With the Stars), Lesley Ann Warren, Jane Seymour, Tricia Helfer (Bombshell), David Lim (S.W.A.T.) and wife Marketa Lim, Carly Hughes (American Housewife), broadcast legend Chuck Southcott, producer Meg DeLoatch, Margaret Judson (HBO’s The Newsroom), UCLA gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, and gymnast Kaitlyn Ohashi.

 Gala Chairs included Avery and Andrew F. Barth (Chairman of the Board of Governing Trustees, ABT), Mark Casey and Carrie Gaiser Casey, Yongsoo Huh, Laine Siklos, Robin A. Ferracone and Stewart R. Smith, and Sutton Stracke.

 The Honorary Chair for the Holiday Gala was actress Jennifer Garner who appeared via video, dressed as a “Nutcracker” toy soldier as she “helped” the dancers get ready for a show. Misty Copeland revealed, “We love Jennifer Garner and her support means everything for us.” Garner is the beloved “celebrity mascot” for the ABT corps de ballet.


Misty Copeland & Blaine Hoven (photo by Margie Barron)

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.