LA Dance Project hosts gala, featuring Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda – WWD

“It’s a little shocking to be back and to have an event so well attended and that we’re moving forward again,” French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, founder of the LA Dance Project, told WWD at the annual conference of the organization. gala Saturday, which was held at a private residence in Beverly Hills after being postponed last year.

“Honestly, with the pandemic impacting so many lives, there really was a time when I wasn’t sure we would take the impact,” he continued.

Millepied was joined by his wife, actress Natalie Portman – who turned heads in an off-the-shoulder, knee-length black velvet dress from Mugler – artists, philanthropists and people like Jane Fonda, Barry Jenkins, Julie Delpy, Jennifer Gray, Paula Abdul, Mindy Kaling, Andie MacDowell, Jodie Foster and his wife Alexandra Hedison.

Guests (who had to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test to attend) mingled inside and outside the house during a cocktail party. They bid on a silent auction, featuring items from Rodarte, Doen and Zadig & Voltaire – a sponsor alongside Van Cleef & Arpels – before coming together for a series of dance and dinner performances.

Taking the stage, outside under the stars, Millepied thanked the supporters, before honoring Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels and long-time partner. The two met almost ten years ago, in 2012, the same year Millepied founded the dance collective and began collaborating on projects aimed at amplifying the LA Dance Project’s mission of making dance accessible.

“Tonight, I honor a dear friend, an exceptional person, Nicolas Bos, Millepied told the audience before the show. “In this life, there are very few people who will be willing to take real risks. It is one thing to have the resources, another the interests or the vision, also the courage. Nicolas has it all.

Millepied gave Bos a gift, one of the dances revealed during the evening (which also included “Night Bloom,” a new work choreographed by former New York City Ballet principal dancer Janie Taylor).

“You can do whatever you want with it. We can even make it an NFT, if you want, ”Millepied joked with a laugh.

“I don’t know if I deserve this honor, but I will take it,” Bos said. “All the Van Cleef & Arpels teams, we are quite attached to dance and choreography. They inspire us. It’s an art form that we love to support. It’s true that this adventure with Benjamin and the LA Dance Project has been quite an adventure and is far from over.

Before unveiling the presentation, Millepied invited the crowd to share shots of Casamigos Blanco tequila to toast on the return from the gala “and I hope it can only get better and better.”

After months of organizing drive-thru shows in the downtown LA Dance Project rehearsal and performance space, Millepied presented new works to a smaller audience, adhering to social distancing guidelines. Now he is preparing to present his interpretation of “Romeo and Juliet” by Sergei Prokofiev at La Seine Musicale in Paris in January.

“After years of playing in the most prestigious theaters in Paris, I wanted to explore a theater on the outskirts of the city,” Millepied explained. “With more seating, a theater with a more open and inclusive approach, we have already sold over 20,000 tickets and are on the way to selling out.”

Millepied also plans to unveil a two-week season in New York (four recent works created by female choreographers), as well as a dance festival in partnership with Qatar, as the Middle Eastern country hosts the World Cup. FIFA 2022.

At his home in Los Angeles, he hopes to expand into a larger venue.

A place “where we can do more shows, with cheaper seats, and continue to bring dance consistently to the city,” he said. “He’s number one. We also have significant community programming. And so, this is something that we continue to do… For me, the business has to reflect the city in which we live. It’s really about giving opportunities to students who need a creative experience that is truly positive for them. It’s about finding the artists who live and work here and who deserve the support and recognition to create with us. These things alone really give LA Dance Project its identity.

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