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Society Swans Flock to American Ballet Theatre’s Opening Night

At five o’clock on the eve of the opening night of American Ballet Theatre’s spring season, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg’s 10-year-old son, Jack, was rushed to the hospital with a broken ankle he got playing around with his pals. At 5:45 p.m., Caroline was already slipping into her Carolina Herrera black cashmere top and long black skirt, and clipping on the drop diamond earrings and diamond bracelet that belonged to her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. At 6 p.m., she kissed her 15-year-old daughter, Rose, and her husband, Edward Schlossberg, goodbye, checked on Jack and his ankle, jumped into her car with her daughter, Tatiana, with a school chum in tow and swept off to the Metropolitan Opera House, where from the great stage she welcomed 1,200 guests to ABT’s glittering gala. Once a Kennedy, always a Kennedy.

This story first appeared in the May 21, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Her speech was graceful. “Since I was a little girl, the opening of ABT has meant spring is here. I always came with my mother and we looked forward to it every year. Also, it’s Tatiana’s 13th birthday and I am happy to continue the tradition of bringing my children here to the ballet.” Caroline also saluted Kevin McKenzie, who is celebrating his 10th anniversary as the artistic director of ABT, and her co-chairman of the evening, Blaine Trump. “No one works harder for ABT than Blaine,” she said. And she meant it and ABT knows it.

After a tour backstage, Caroline and the girls went off to celebrate Tatiana’s birthday with family and friends, but the rest of the 1,200 crowded into an adjoining tent for the gala dinner and dance that raised more than $2 million in the process.

Leading the way was Blaine in a beautiful lavender and blue vintage Christian Lacroix gown she said she dragged kicking and screaming from her closet. She brought along her mother, Jean Beard, who was wearing a beige and silver beaded dress under a shocking pink taffeta stole and thrilled to be at her first ABT opening. They were not the only two dressed to the nines and the 10s and beyond. ABT’s Russian prima ballerina Irina Dvorovenko, who danced a waltz with an equally splendid Ethan Stiefel from La Bayadere choreographed by ballet legend Natalia Makarova, arrived looking like an Erte illustration in a strapless camouflage-printed Roberto Cavalli dress laced seductively up the back with her husband and fellow ABT principal dancer, Maxim Belotserkovsky, who soared in the Act I waltz from “Swan Lake” with inspired choreography by Kevin McKenzie. Max was also in charge of unlacing Irina when he got her home. Who else would tell you these things?

Other dancers drawing gasps from the crowd were Angel Corella, Paloma Herrera, Gillian Murphy, Jose Manuel Carreno and Julio Bocca who danced the pas de deux à quatre from “Don Quixote” with Nina Ananiashvili, Ashley Tuttle and Xiomara Reyes. Everyone was positively thrilled with ABT’s new hit “Within You Without You” choreographed by David Parsons and Anne Reinking, Natalie Weir and Stanton Welch with music and lyrics by the late great Beatle George Harrison, whose wife, Olivia, was in the audience leading the deafening applause.

The tent was beautifully decorated by Bill Tansey, who centered electric yellow tablecloths with 3-foot spheres of baby’s breath made to look like fabulous faux dandelions towering over half the tables in green glass vases. The other half were done in low hedges of verbena and bright white roses. Lighting expert Bentley Meeker created a sunset effect with oversized lanterns glowing amber and gold above rows of birch branches lining the interior of the tent. They cast a rosy glow on everything and everyone —or almost everyone.

And this is what they wore: Muffie Potter Aston in a pink sheath with little pink feathers fluttering all over her; Arriana Boardman in a strapless white column with black polkadots by Raymond Ray; Tory Burch in a floral printed Valentino with a trailing scarf; Jamee Gregory in a black and red plaid from Bill Blass; Deborah Norville in a hot white strapless number; Lily Safra in a black Valentino and important jewels; Hilary Geary in a sequined beige and silver Pamela Dennis; Lynda Carter in Bellville Sassoon’s black satin and lace; Nan Kempner in a red Jean Paul Gaultier and Chris Reilly in Giorgio Armani. Everywhere you looked you saw Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Isabella Rossellini, Mariann and Steve Florio, Michael Kors, Cari and Matthew Modine, Joan Rivers, Scott Bessent, Anne Bass, Coco and Arie Kopelman, Judy and Sam Peabody etc., etc., etc. And Kelly Ripkin in Badgley Mischka’s beige and black beaded organza. Also in the big top was Kelly’s husband, baseball legend Cal Ripken, who said, between signing autographs, he admired the dancers for the superb athletes they were.

You have through June 28 to see these magical dancers in liquid action at the Met. You’ll be tickled to the tips of your toes if you do.

In real life, singers Britney, Christina and Madonna have been busy changing their hair from light to dark — going from blond to brunette, but come summer, the movies will abound with blondness. In “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde,” Reese Witherspoon will return as Elle Woods in all her flaxen-haired cuteness, costarring with Sally Field, who returns to the screen as a blonde! Well known blonde bombshells Brittany Murphy and Heather Locklear — who know well if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — will light up movie theaters in the comedy “Uptown Girls,” due in August.

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