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Slippers and Tutus Galore at the YAGP’s 2017 Gala

Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen
Last night, ballet enthusiasts gathered at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater for the Youth America Grand Prix’s Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow Gala. Guided by master of ceremonies Keltie Knight, the evening began with a brilliant showcase by the finalists of the YAGP—rising ballet talents whose proud families and friends offered uproarious rounds of applause after each string of crowd-pleasing pirouettes. The first act culminated with a performance by more than 200 YAGP dancers, wee ballerinas and ballerinos ages 9–19 from 33 countries, who took to the stage en masse for a grand défilé.

After a lifetime achievement acceptance speech by Bruce Marks, the second act began. True to the gala’s name, Act II resembled a revolving stage of world-renowned dancers from ballet companies around the globe (many YAGP alumni themselves). Gracing the stage were New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck, the American Ballet Theatre’s James Whiteside, and the English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo and Cesar Corrales (who received a rock star–level of applause).

After the performances, guests in festive attire filed into the dining room. Tables dressed in white linens and blonde bentwood chairs were laid with platters of family-style Mediterranean mezza; centerpieces of rosemary and mint bouquets added a sweet aroma to the room. Over the main course, Knight took to the stage once more for the auction portion of the evening. Magnanimous guests placed their bids and also offered donations to the YAGP, depositing pledge forms into baskets wielded by YAGP students who circulated the room in their tutus.

In the crowd were gala cochairs Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, evoking black/white swans in alternating monochromatic looks; Chelsea Clinton, in a printed sheath dress; Nicky Hilton Rothschild; and Rachel Feinstein in a billowing sleeved–dress by The Row. “I went in to pick out a dress for tonight and I walked out of the store with bags of things!” Feinstein conceded, touting the designers who stood nearby. Also sporting The Row was Amy Astley, honorary chair of the evening, who wore the brand’s black suede flats, exclaiming, “The better to dance in!”

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