Inside SF Ballet’s Celestial Opening Gala

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City Hall during the pre-show dinner
City Hall during the pre-show dinner

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

“I could have danced all night! I could have danced all night! And still have begged for more.” This morning—the day after the San Francisco Ballet’s opening gala—I couldn’t get the lyrics from My Fair Lady out of my head. Although I hardly danced at the afterparty, I felt the same sentiments that Liza experienced when she sang this song.

Kathryn Huber
Kathryn Huber

Photo Credit: Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography

The only difference is that I know what made it so exciting: the dreamy decor, the delicious cuisine, the gorgeous gowns, and the incredible performances. It was a sensational night! The event kicked off the ballet’s 85th repertory season which officially begins next week with its first program, the classic story ballet, The Sleeping Beauty. Kathryn A. Huber was the gala chair and Ms. Betsy A. Linder was the dinner chair.

A pretty floral arrangement at City Hall
A pretty floral arrangement at City Hall

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

With a giant disco ball, silver mirrors of cutout dancers, and innovative lighting, event designer Riccardo Benavides transformed City Hall into a starry scape worthy of the evening’s theme, Celestial. The night began with a packed cocktail hour at 5 p.m. which was followed promptly by an elegant sit-down dinner catered by McCall’s.

Chrisa Pappas and James Collini walk from City Hall to the War Memorial Opera House
Chrisa Pappas and James Collini walk from City Hall to the War Memorial Opera House

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

The three-course menu included crisp brassicas with pickled cauliflower, apple yogurt, and herbed yam puree; braised beef short ribs with lemon barley risotto and white spotted prawns, and a delectable lemon meringue tart for dessert. After the meal everyone paraded from City Hall across Van Ness Street to the War Memorial Opera House.

Getting all the happy revelers into their seats for the show was a difficult task for the poor ushers. Yet, it was finally done and the curtain rose. After a dance performed by students of the San Francisco Ballet, the principal dancers took to the stage to do what they do best. In the Night by Jerome Robbins with Mathilde Froustey and Benjamin Freemantle was the opening sequence. Froustey, who was injured for most of last season and did not perform, was the perfect person to dance the first piece. She moved with utter abandon and pure joy. You couldn’t help but feel her joy while watching her. It was captivating.

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Dores André and Wei Wang previewed The Sleeping Beauty with their performance of the Bluebird pas de deux. France Chung and Joseph Walsh were exceptional in a more contemporary piece, Children of Chaos. The highlight of the first act was Sasha De Sola and Angelo Greco dancing the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. De Sola’s technical twirling was impeccable and Greco’s leaps were breathtaking.

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After intermission, Yuan Yuan Tan, the star principal, danced Letting Go alongside Carlo Di Lanno. She was flawless, perfection, divine; Tan is a true master of ballet. Maria Kochetkova looked like a little fairy dancing the pas de deux from La Sylphide and new comer to the company, Ana Sophia Scheller, was exceptional in the Stars and Stripes pas de deux.

Dancing at the after party
Dancing at the after party

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer PhotographyWhen the show concluded, everyone—dancers included!—headed back to City Hall for the after party. Food stations with paella, French bread pizza, sushi, and popcorn were set up and the wine flowed. The band PopRocks performed covers in the South Hall while a DJ performed in the North Hall. Despite the rain, the A-listed came out for the event dressed to impress.

Sonya Molodetskaya
Sonya Molodetskaya

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Stephanie Marver wore a Dior gown inspired by the night sky and Dr. Caroline Chang looked luminescent in silver. Sonya Molodetskaya, who told me at her last birthday party that she wanted to dress sexier in the coming year, did just that in a low-cut glittering white gown by her friend designer Vasily Vein. Rada Katz, in a frothy black number, also wore Vasilly Vein. Yuka Uehera turned heads in an avant garde romper of her own design and dressed Froustey for the after party.

Mary Beth Shimmon
Mary Beth Shimmon

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Chrisa Pappas was a risk taker in a Gucci gown with puffed shoulders. Allison Speer looked regal in dark green velvet and Mary Beth Shimmon embraced her playful side in a blue top with feathery peplum. Other looks I loved? Patricia Dassios in a chic Tom Ford black cocktail dress with cutout sleeves, Alison Harrington in a one-shouldered pink satin number that fit her perfectly, and Katherine Miry in a red wide-legged La Perla tuxedo. Fun was had by all at the glamorous gala.

Patrick Barber and Melissa Barber
Patrick Barber and Melissa Barber

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Atmosphere
Atmosphere

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Patricia Dassios
Patricia Dassios

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Atmosphere
Atmosphere

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Alison Harrington and Eoin Harrington
Alison Harrington and Eoin Harrington

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Atmosphere
Atmosphere

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Victor Makras and Farah Makras
Victor Makras and Farah Makras

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Chrisa Pappas
Chrisa Pappas

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Yurie Pascarella, Carl Pascarella and Akiko Yamasaki
Yurie Pascarella, Carl Pascarella and Akiko Yamasaki

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Allison Speer
Allison Speer

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Samantha Bechtel and Darren Bechtel
Samantha Bechtel and Darren Bechtel

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

London Breed
London Breed

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Carolyn Chang
Carolyn Chang

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Angela Durazo
Angela Durazo

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Stephanie Marver
Stephanie Marver

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Nadine Orona, Kristi Yamaguchi and Lori Yamaguchi
Nadine Orona, Kristi Yamaguchi and Lori Yamaguchi

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Yuan Yuan Tan
Yuan Yuan Tan

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

The after party
The after party

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Mathilde Froustey and Yuka Uehara
Mathilde Froustey and Yuka Uehara

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Wanting Zhao
Wanting Zhao

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Dede Wilsey
Dede Wilsey

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Atmosphere
Atmosphere

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Maria Kochetkova
Maria Kochetkova

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Jack Calhoun and Trent Norris
Jack Calhoun and Trent Norris

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Kelsey Lamond
Kelsey Lamond

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Calgary Avansino
Calgary Avansino

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Charlotte Shultz and George Shultz
Charlotte Shultz and George Shultz

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Janet Reilly and Larry Baer
Janet Reilly and Larry Baer

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Angelo Greco, Solomon Golding, Jahna Frantziskonis and Nathaniel Remez
Angelo Greco, Solomon Golding, Jahna Frantziskonis and Nathaniel Remez

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

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