Swanning Around

ABT Previews Its New Season


Grace Hightower and Helen Mirren.
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New York's social set donned their black-tie best for American Ballet Theatre's opening-night fall gala on Wednesday. "This is a hazard," said Susan Fales-Hill, when the train of her Vera Wang dress was stepped on for the umpteenth time in the crowded aisles. "There really should be train traffic police."

Any heavy-footed attendees were quickly forgotten as the ABT dancers came on stage and enchanted an audience that included Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Judy Peabody, and Grace Hightower. "It was an eclectic delight," said Helen Mirren of the series of performances, which ran the gamut from Twyla Tharp's Sinatra Suite (featuring a five-song medley that included My Way) to the second-act pas de deux from Swan Lake. But it was the finale, a full performance of Tharp's In the Upper Room, that truly bewitched. "Imagine music by Philip Glass, outfits by Norma Kamali, and then dancers like Irina Dvorovenko," gushed Fe Fendi. "How could it not be magical?"

So charmed were the balletomanes that they contributed $600,000 to ABT's coffers by the end of the evening. When the gala's co-chair Muffie Potter Aston reeled off a list of major contributors, she singled out fellow co-chair Anne Grauso. "Anne, there's only one thing more fashionable than your Carolina Herrera dress," she said. "And that's your generosity."

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