Who doesn't love a good party? That's the attitude of leadership at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. So with that thought in mind, the opening night of Diavolo came complete with a shindig at the French bistro La Cachette in Santa Monica.
As a former dancer, board member Jamie Bishton recalled the cast parties he attended after his performances with American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp's dance company and the White Oak Dance Project. "When I was dancing, we wanted to meet everyone who saw the show, not just the select few who paid the big dollars," he said. "Here we're opening the doors to everyone, saying 'Come on and enjoy our opening night.'"
More than half the audience at the Jan. 21 event joined Diavolo's cast members and artistic director Jacques Heim, who described the gymnastic dance show as a salad, combining as ingredients everyday movement, ballet, modern dance, martial arts, hip-hop and acrobatics. "You tweak it a little and then you toss the salad," he said. Although there are themes to each piece, such as faith, love, chaos, balance, consciousness and wisdom, he added: "It's like an abstract painting in a museum. You can look at it and enjoy it, but if you're waiting for it to speak to you, forget it."
Actress Brenda Vaccaro of "You Don't Know Jack" and her husband, Guy Hector, shared a table on the patio, where servers passed mini-pizzas, quiches and tomato tarts. Impressed by the show's athletic nature, Vaccaro compared the dancers to gladiators. But, she said, compared with Heim, other choreographers take small, dainty steps. Heim "paints the sky," she said.
Teaming up with Los Angeles magazine, La Cachette's chef-owner Jean Francois Meteigner and manager Fabrice Lorenzi welcomed party-goers, who also included Bill Borden and Melinda Gray, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, Rosanne Ziering and Liz Levitt Hirsch.
Renamed O.C. center
Big celebrations were in order at the "Reflections" premiere at the newly renamed Segerstrom Center for the Arts (formerly the Orange County Performing Arts Center). It was not only the center's first collaboration with the Bolshoi Theatre but also its first production since being rechristened in honor of the Segerstrom family.
The mood was jubilant by the first intermission, when Yekaterina Zhukov, wife of Alexander Zhukov, the deputy prime minister of Russia, joined Elizabeth and Henry Segerstom, dance impresario Sergei Danilian of Ardani Artists and others for cocktails at the Center Room. There, center President Terry Dwyer acknowledged the partnership and thanked production underwriters, who included Terry and George Schreyer, Virginia and Richard Hunsaker, Sutton and Christian Stracke, Christina Lyon, Bill Gillespie and Michelle Rohe.
The Jan. 20 performance was followed by a near-midnight supper, where ballerinas in giant plastic bubbles awaited more than 250 party-goers at South Coast Plaza. Cast members joined in for more dancing, only this time not to ballet tunes but to rock music.
Through a translator, Anatoly Iksanov, the Bolshoi Theatre's general director, invited guests to Russia, and a few in the crowd said they were headed for the ballet's Moscow premiere, among them Christina Lyon and Sutton Stracke, both former dancers. Lyon said she danced with the American Ballet Theatre and English National Ballet, and Stracke taught at the North Carolina Dance Theatre.