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SF Ballet Opening Night Soars --Danse Exquis de Design

I’m glad I wore my Balanciaga to Wednesday night’s San Francisco Ballet 2014 Opening Night Gala—PHENOMENAL—because the evening more than lived up to its moniker.

Elisabeth Laurence and Grande Doyenne Denise Hale at San Francisco Ballet Opening Gala
Elisabeth Laurence
Elisabeth Laurence and Grande Doyenne Denise Hale
Elisabeth Laurence

It was a grand rassemblement dans un cadre superbe.

PHENOMENAL was also a record fund-raiser at $2.4million—an élégant événement and a rollicking good time.

It was replete with a surfeit of The City’s socials—including grande doyenne of them all—International Best-Dressed Hall of Famer, Denise Hale, looking regal, soignée and—I swear—eternally éclatant, then Charlotte Schultz—looking as radiant and effervescent as ever, and a chic, animated House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

And there was an interesting cadre of deep-pocket financial types—Stanford grads all--from lanky John Powers, of Stanford Management, baby-faced Jerry Yang, a co-founder of Yahoo!, preppie-looking Tom Steyer, of Farallon Capital Management, dapper Carl Pascarella—Vice Chairman of the Ballet Board and Executive Advisor at TPG, and of course—stentorian Chairman of the Ballet Board, John Osterweis, founder of Osterweis Capital Management.

Missing—Silicon Valley’s sole female CEO—another Stanford alum (and San Francisco Ballet Board Member)—dazzling Marissa Mayer—who was at Davos.

Congratulations to lovely, dressed-to-perfection Chair Tanya Marietta Powell and her committee from the San Francisco Ballet Auxiliary—including slim, ever-stylish Dinner Chair Trish Ferrin Loucks. They delivered a seamlessly splendid, sold-out gala evening from début à la fin, including a Cocktail Reception in an élégamment décorées et fêté San Francisco City Hall where guests then dined extravagante on a dinner of lobster, salad with Green Goddess dressing, and short ribs, with coup de gras—a swimmingly decadent chocolate cake, to two After-Party Soirees. Everything was planned—and executed with perfection.

There was even a Prosecco Promenade in lobby of the gilded, majestic War Memorial Opera House—a complimentary glass of “drink du jour,” Italy’s fresh, bubbly fermentation—Prosecco, for all performance ticket holders.

The San Francisco Ballet performances were equally grand. Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson worked his usual magic with short ballet pieces that elicited a rousing response from the audience. Les Lutins, The Man I Love, tango-driven Talk to Her, Giselle and Diana and Acteon were some of the highlights.

Afterward, some 2,000 guests floated back to City Hall for dancing to the music of dual After Parties—either a live band by David Martinâs’s House Party, or music by DJ Chris Clouse.

Mais une note spéciale—a special note of applause, must go to J. Riccardo Benavides and his IDEAS event firm, for creating the Ballet Gala’s extraordinary ballet de lumière—ballet of light—at the event, with huge, shadow-panels of kinetic dancers pirouetting and plié-ing high above the diners near the eaves of City Hall.

Event planner Benavides, who fashioned a perfectly tuned, classic ambiance with crystal table-top candelabras, gilded chargers, and sophisticated tone-on-tone table décor, has an eye for exquisite and moving detail. Visual elements in his designs always tell a story, as when Benavides designed the extraordinary, fantastical decor for last year's San Francisco Ballet's Opening Night Ball for Cinderella—including a fairytale, full-size coach and elaborate fantasy setting. It’s nice to seeing his star rise through The City and beyond. Stunning Teresa Medearis, San Francisco Opera Board Member and Chair of the San Francisco Opera’s 75th Anniversary Gala, shared that Benavides has been retained for their 75th Anniversary in September.