Shakespeare in the Plaza

The Tempest gets its premiere at ABT's opening night


Carlos Souza and Alix Duvernoy   
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Between fashion weeks, Lincoln Center seems relatively desolate without the obligatory crush of photographers and would-be street-style stars. But last night the plaza came alive again, as paps and the smart set turned out for American Ballet Theatre's season kickoff gala. The annual bash (sponsored this year by Clinique and Badgley Mischka) gives ballet-goers a chance to sample the company's offerings in a condensed program. Though Balanchine and two world premieres made for a weighty bill, it was the debut of Alexei Ratmansky's The Tempest that was on the lips of everyone from Bebe Neuwirth and Sigourney Weaver to James Lipton, who reminisced about his own ballet studies.

Others were happy just to be there, no matter what the material, like Jessica Stam, who was preparing to jet off to China the next day, and Elettra Wiedemann, who confessed, "I love getting the Cliffs Notes version of a bunch of different ballets, and then I feel like I've done my cultural outing for a while!" Michelle Ochs was on hand with ABT soloist Isabella Boylston, one of the company's many dancers that Cushnie et Ochs has dressed over the past four years. As to how Ochs attributes the partnership's longevity? "What better way to showcase your clothes? It's unreal! If anyone can wear off-the-runway samples…"

Post-performance, guests retired upstairs for dinner and dancing (with tunes courtesy of DJ "Mad Marg" Gubelmann). The hall was decked out in on-theme finery, with columns transformed into whirling cyclones. Guests compared notes on the performance over something called Tempest antipasti. 

Alan Cumming, who dubbed his attire for the evening "dandyish," showed off his own dancing shoes (Louboutin) and an appropriately Shakespearean shirt with built-in cravat, the designer of which failed him, though he gamely offered up his collar for further inspection—as well as his thoughts on the evening: "I like seeing nubile bodies jumping around onstage." And who could blame him?

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