A group with as many high-profile, high-society fans as the American Ballet Theatre would hardly be expected to perform in a second-rate venue. The Bel Air estate belonging to Robin and Elliott Broidy was an appropriately grand milieu to host the dancers at a gala benefiting the company. For the second year, the Broidys lent their vast manse as the backdrop for ABT's Los Angeles fund-raiser, which featured a performance by the dancers followed by dinner. (Construction on the spectacular new home had only recently been completed for the first event, held this time last summer.)
ABT's New York-based director of special events, John Banta, oversaw the gala, to continue to connect with local donors and court new ones. After all, Congress recognizes ABT as the official national ballet company, and the organization has a commitment to touring throughout the country. The dancers at the party had recently completed performing at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
After poolside cocktails on a tier of the property close to the hilly neighborhood's street level, 360 guests (including former governor Gray Davis and his wife, Sharon) descended onto the maroon-carpeted tennis court to watch performances from Sleeping Beauty, Gopak, and Don Quixote on a simple black stage. Close to 8 p.m., the crowd moved to the green-carpeted lawn for a dinner set at black-and-white tables accented with red roses. Centerpieces alternated between simple, robust arrangements in squat vases to bouquets of stems at oblique angles jutting from towering glass vases. Sonny Alexander used 4,000 roses in all.
The meal ended by 11 p.m., with a final course of birthday cake in honor of the male Broidy's recent 50th birthday. And after a bit of a backup to retrieve valet-parked cars on account of the winding roads, guests set off into the night with boxes containing croissants, honey, and jam. The event raised more than $325,000.