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By Tuesday, some city dwellers had already departed Manhattan for Thanksgiving celebrations in other parts of the country, but there were still enough bold-facers in town to generate a stellar turnout at New York City Ballet’s opening night gala. Sarah Jessica Parker, Blythe Danner, Valentino, Vanessa Williams and Veronica Webb were among those who packed into Lincoln Center for a medley performance (featuring choreography by George Balanchine and Peter Martins) followed by a seated dinner.
Though it seems like dance companies are always celebrating their new seasons, the evening was unfamiliar territory for at least a few guests. Alicia Keys copped to never having been to the ballet in her hometown. “I can’t believe it, since I grew up in New York,” said the singer, who came as a guest of new NYCB board member Lisa Maria Falcone.
Others had a longer history with the art form. Parker, who arrived with Broadway lyricist Scott Whitman, studied at the School of American Ballet and tapped down the Great White Way as a kid in “Annie” and other productions. But even she couldn’t keep up with the evening’s entertainment.
“I can dance like that in my dream world,” she said. “Actually, that’s probably why I gave it up. I’m a much better audience member than I am a dancer.”
Parker, then, was probably pleased with the man she sat next to at dinner: David Koch, who donated $100 million toward the New York State Theater’s renovation. In honor of Koch’s generosity, it was renamed the David H. Koch Theater and Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared Tuesday David Koch Day.
“These are not easy times, especially for the performing arts,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, in his speech thanking Koch for his hefty contribution.
But the oil scion, whose net worth is estimated at $17 billion, downplayed his gift.
“Imagine if 500,000 people walked through your house every year,” he said.
“You’d need to redo it too.”