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LAS VEGAS Amid ballet dancers, Cirque du Soleil performers, and centerpieces evocative of ballet dancers, the Nevada Ballet Theatre honored Priscilla Presley as its 27th Woman of the Year, at the organization's Black & White Ball at Aria Resort & Casino at Las Vegas' CityCenter. Internally, Nancy Houssels, the Nevada Ballet’s co-founder and board co-chair, who has been at the helm of the Black & White Ball since its inception, oversaw the event, with assistance from Jenn Kratochwill, director of public relations for the theater.
Presley, who was accompanied to the event by three other generations of her family, including her daughter with Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie, entered the ballroom alongside four costumed performers from Aria's Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis, all of whom portrayed Elvis at different stages of his life. But with the exception of a performance from Viva Elvis, the rest of the evening belonged to Priscilla Presley and the Nevada Ballet.
Guests arriving at the pre-event reception saw live performances by members of the Nevada Ballet Theatre. Although the Black & White Ball always has featured performances by the company, this year was the first time dancers performed in the more intimate reception area, where guests could be literally inches away from them.
Table centerpieces were evocative of the legs of ballet dancers and included purple orchids and faux jewels in a nod to one of the signature colors in Presley's jewelry line. “We wanted to show a level of elegance and sophistication, but also some playfulness to represent Priscilla’s lifestyle and career,” said Julie Gilday-Shaffer, of the JGS Group, which managed the event. “This was an evening that honored Priscilla Presley, not Elvis. It really was her night.”
America Idol and So You Think You Can Dance producer Nigel Lythgoe, a personal friend of the Presley family, introduced Priscilla Presley after a video tribute featuring scenes from her numerous TV and film appearances, including the Naked Gun movies with the late Leslie Nielsen, Melrose Place, Dallas, Touched by an Angel, and Dancing with the Stars.
The event raised more than $200,000 for the Nevada Ballet Theatre.