LA Dance Project Gala

2013 Los Angeles Dance Project Benefit Gala
Reese Witherspoon, Rashida Jones and More Than 150 Others Join Benjamin Millepied and Natalie Portman at the Inaugural LA Dance Project Gala



As the near-full supermoon rose over the backyard of Sutton and Christian Stracke’s Bel-Air home June 20, dance supporters enjoyed cocktails and the chance to chat with Benjamin Millepied, the dancer, choreographer of “Black Swan” and founding director of the L.A. Dance Project

For details of the party, click here for my June 22 story in the Culture Monster section of the Los Angeles Times. For pictures of the beautiful people populating the Stracke’s backyard, check out the gallery below. 

Here are a few basics: Sutton Stracke and Catharine Soros co-chaired the gala, while Millepied’s wife, Natalie Portman acted as honorary chair, looking radiant in a red Dior gown. 

The night’s agenda consisted of a gourmet dinner, live and silent auctions, a brilliant performance by the L.A. Dance Project and a dance party.

Truly a fun night, when the time came for the performances, some of those seated for dinner turned out to be dancers. Yet before ascending the stage, they simply rose up and executed their dance moves between the tables. 

Justin Peck of the New York City Ballet choreographed the second piece, which he’d begun a mere three days before. That work is set to premiere in Lyon in September. 

On returning to our table, dancer and ballet master Charlie Hodges explained how the dancers had patched together the first piece, calling the work a mash-up, like the ones on TV’s “Glee.” 

Considering that Millepied will be headed for Paris to become the new director of the Paris Opera Ballet, I couldn’t help asking about the transition.

“We’ll be very sad to say goodbye to Los Angeles, but we’ll be coming back,” said Portman. For his part, Millepied said he’d continue to oversee the artistic programming.

2013 Los Angeles Dance Project Benefit Gala

Also on hand were Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis and husbands of the co-chairs Christian Stracke and Jeffrey Soros.

Committee members present included SONY chief executive Michael Lynton; Mike Medavoy, producer of “Black Swan,” and Irena Medavoy; designers Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte; stylist Mary Alice Haney, art advisor Karyn Lovegrove, artist Kimberly Brooks, Decades boutique owner Cameron Silver, and publicist Jessica Robin Trent. 

Among other guests of note were Aaron Sorkin, writer of “the Newsroom” and “The Social Network;” producers Sydney Holland and Erik Fleming of Rich Hippie Productions; Olga Garay, executive director of the LA Department of Cultural Affairs, and Kerry English; Jeffrey Deitch, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art; artist Barbara Kruger; designer Sophie Buhai of Vena Cava; restaurateurs Catherine and Elizabeth An; and the dance company’s founding producer Charles Fabius. 


Top photo: Honorary gala chair Natalie Portman in Dior, center, with gala co-chairs Catharine Soros, left, and Sutton Stracke, right, at the  LA Dance Project Gala (photo: Stefanie Keenan/ WireImage)

Second photo: From left, committee members Irena Medavoy, Mike Medavoy, and Benjamin Millepied at the LA Dance Project Gala (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)

Third photo: The dancers performed on a stage in Sutton and Christian Stracke’s backyard at the LA Dance Project Gala (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)


2013 Los Angeles Dance Project Benefit Gala

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LA Dance Project Gala

Published June 22, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA