At New York City Ballet’s spring gala Wednesday night, it was as if a time capsule from the early Aughts had been unlatched.
The more economically enlightened time — images from which are currently flooding the social media feeds of aesthetically inclined Millennials, replacing their former favorite decade of reference, the Nineties — was a breeding ground for rhinestoned optimism: Bringing us Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s “The Simple Life”; Carrie Bradshaw’s jaunt around Paris with “The Russian,” and the last time an American took home a medal in ladies’ figure skating at the Olympics.
Lucky for the room’s young patrons, remnants from each of these historical occasions were on hand at Lincoln Center.
Paris Hilton, fresh off a flight from London, was escorted to the ballet by her brother Barron. Blonde hair in barrel curls, the self-made celebutante-turned-fragrance-scion told WWD that the ballet reminds her of childhood. “My sister, Nicky, Nicole Richie and I were ballerinas as children, so it brings back a lot of memories,” she said.
Hilton, the early Aughts poster girl for minuscule pink dresses and maniacally logoed accessories, acknowledged her renascent cultural capital: “It’s cute, it’s really fun, that style back then was just so then and to see it coming back and see all of the girls wearing it all over Instagram — it’s awesome. I love that I can be an inspiration to girls.”
An equally perky presence from the early Aughts — the fiery figure skater Sasha Cohen — was also in attendance. The last American ladies skater to be awarded with an Olympic medal — she won silver in 2006 with a short program routine that is still considered among one of the sport’s best performances — says her childhood also instilled her with an appreciation for ballet.
“I grew up taking ballet for the first 10 years of my skating career, it was a big part of my life,” she said.
And post-performance, Aleksandr Petrovsky of “Sex and the City,” aka Mikhail Baryshnikov — known to older crowds as the most prolific male ballerina in history — was chowing down on steak, having just digested the evening’s program of three contemporary works.
“It’s a new generation, it’s great to see new faces. The company is in very wonderful shape, I think, and is supported by very capable and wonderful choreographers. I think it’s an extraordinary group.
“Time flies, the styles are changing, and maybe the dancers are better now than we ever were,” he said.