2010 April 30

Tiny Dancers

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Natalie Portman, in Lanvin Natalie Portman, in Lanvin
WILL RAGOZZINO/PatrickMcMullan.com
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(NEW YORK) Whether you’re anxiously awaiting the next installment of Sex and the City or Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming Black Swan, Lincoln Center was the place to be last night, as the New York City Ballet celebrated its Spring Gala 2010. From the former: longtime NYC Ballet patron Sarah Jessica Parker and Mikhail Baryshnikov, and from the latter: Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepeid—an NYCB principal dancer who also happened to choreograph the first half of the night’s performance, Why am I not where you are. New York society types—including Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera and Gilles Mendel, who dressed the evening’s female principal dancers—gathered at the David H. Koch Theater for the world premieres of Millepeid’s show and Namouna, A Grand Divertissement, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky.

“It was thrilling. I felt really, really lucky to be here tonight,” said Parker after the show as patrons gathered for dinner in the Theater’s Plaza. “Tonight I was really, truly in awe. I was a dancer as a young girl, and then when I moved to New York I studied with ABT—ironically!” (Note to non-ballet followers: the School of American Ballet is affiliated with NYCB—not American Ballet Theatre.) “I loved my time there, but I think I came to New York and [NYC Ballet founder] Mr. Balanchine was always in my head from the time I was a little girl. I just was drawn to this company as an audience member.” Parker only has about a week and a half before the SATC frenzy begins again; the movie’s New York premiere is on May 10. “I love when we get to premiere the movie and meet people who have waited,” she said. “It’s very gratifying.” And though last year’s zoo of a premiere left hundreds waiting outside, SJP could only laugh, “I hope someone shows up this time!”

Millepeid is going to have to prepare himself for a frenzy of his own: not only is Black Swan already generating Oscars buzz, but his romance with actress Portman will certainly make him, well, higher-profile. “It was a tough first job!” he said of the film. “The movie had to be authentic, because it’s a ballet movie, so I worked very seriously with Darren. I was responsible for making them look like ballerinas, which was a great challenge. But they did very well! You wouldn’t believe it.” Who knows? Maybe next Spring Gala, Portman herself will be ready to take the stage…

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