Powdered Wigs and Bidding Wars: Behind the Scenes of The Los Angeles Ballet Gala

The company onstage and the company offstage were both <em>en pointe</em>

I was sitting in the Beverly Wilshire’s gilded ballroom the other night at the Los Angeles Ballet Gala, and there was Michael Milken at the next table emulating a certain Sprint commercial (“Like Daddy always says, ‘Money doesn’t spend itself’”). He kept raising his paddle over and over, bidding against himself at the live auction for a personal performance from the company for thirty of his closest friends at a posh pad. Milken won the battle (shocking) and snagged the performance for $70,000. Another bidder (not Milken) came in last minute, and the company awarded two performances, upping the haul to $140,000 for the over-the-top private shows.

The gala was a golden concoction: guests were met by white horses and uniformed riders from the War Horse & Militaria Heritage Foundation before heading inside, where they were serenaded by a costumed quartet and surrounded by tables laden with roses and candelabras. Tickets/tables at the soiree ranged from $500 to $100,000. The gathering drew the likes of Wallis Annenberg, Barbara Davis, honoree Ghada Irani, Governor Gray Davis (Ret.) and Sharon Davis, Joan and John Hotchkis, Michael and Lori Milken, and actress Wendie Malick, among others. Malick and many of the dancers wore fantastic dresses courtesy of Oscar de la Renta. “I was one of Mr. de la Renta’s runway models in the ‘70s,” she confessed.

The best part of the evening? When the world-class company performed a preview of Sechs Tänze (Six Dances) choreographed by Jiří Kylián for those assembled. To say that it was good would be an understatement. The piece was performed by the company with grace, athleticism, and a great deal of wit (it is a riot). The outstanding performance was set to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (which would explain all the powdered wigs). Think ballet is a snooze? Wakey, wakey. You can check out the Los Angeles Ballet Company’s performances of Sechs Tänze (among other pieces) in one of these upcoming performances.