American Ballet Theatre: Makes a Pointe of Stopping in L.A.

ABT stages a magical backyard ballet at Jeanne and Anthony Pritzker’s place


Crickets chirped quietly in time with the music the other night as American Ballet Theatre performed in Jeanne and Anthony Pritzker’s backyard for the intimate group who gather each year for the corps Los Angeles fundraiser. The event has been held in backyards and tennis courts from San Marino to Malibu and it is always a memorable night spent enjoying some of the best dancers in the world, in a company that is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year. ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie regaled his tablemates (me included) about ABT’s travels this year and his dance career before he became the artistic head of the group. He was joined by at the table by former principal ballerina Martine van Hamel and L.A.-based patrons like Younes and Soraya Nazarian, Robin and Elliot Broidy and Jane Kaczmarek and her daughter Frances Whitford.

The Pritzkers have donated their impressive pad for this fete for a handful of years and joined their 200 or so houseguests for dinner by Lucques that was accompanied by four ballet performances. The performances included a gorgeous Seven Sonatas by Alexei Ratmansky and quirky Toccare by Marcelo Gomes. Dessert was served back in the manse where a handful of security guards kept the curious from some of the Pritzkers’ more impressive artwork. Something about an errant glass one year—oh, the perils of house parties. Let’s just say he was not amused at my compulsion to always want to poke a viscous-looking piece in the foyer.

The troupe will be back in L.A. in March 2015 (well, the OC) at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts premiering Alexei Ratmansky’s Sleeping Beauty.

Photographs by Alex J. Berliner and Ben Shmikler / ABImages