The Father-Daughter Dance

sjp, naomi, liv, and more toast stella and paul mccartney at their new ballet's debut


Paul and Stella McCartney take a bow with the New York City Ballet   
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Gala premieres at Lincoln Center tend to generate more murmurs than roars. But things were buzzing more than usual last night at New York City Ballet's Ocean's Kingdom. The camera phones were out, the dolled-up spectators on seat's edge. There was, as musical director Fayçal Karoui announced during the orchestral warm-up, "a whole different level of excitement."

That's because the composer of the season opener, an old-fashioned fairy tale about star-crossed lovers from land and sea, was a guy named Paul McCartney. His daughter, Stella, did the costumes, and between the two of them, they brought in more than the usual crowd of benefactors.

From the stage, choreographer Peter Martins toasted Sir Paul with a cup of tea—an honor that the company's founder George Balanchine used to bestow on the likes of Ravel and Stravinsky, albeit using vodka. There was nothing watered down about the younger McCartney's contribution, though, which played up the contrast between the story's elegant, gently rippling underwater beings and punked-out earthlings.

Color the designer's big-name friends impressed. "All the tunics looked so much like her," noted Sarah Jessica Parker on her way into the dinner tent. Naomi Watts chimed in: "Brilliant movement, and those fabrics—on top of everything she does: four kids, how many labels?"

By all accounts, Sir Paul took a very active role in the production—Stella told us after the show that the striking tribal tattoo motifs were his idea. "My dad just gets on and does it, you know? He loves making music and it comes very naturally to him," she said. At the premiere, the pop legend tried valiantly to deflect attention from himself at curtain call. But as Stella put it, "I think he would have been a fool not to have known that he was the star of the night."

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