The Crowd: International show turns heads

An international event unfolded in Costa Mesa on Jan. 20. The ballet "Reflections" debuted at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, bringing together six of the greatest ballerinas in the world. The women were joined on stage by four of the most talented Bolshoi-trained male dancers, all working with internationally acclaimed choreographers. Following its original run in Costa Mesa, "Reflections" opened this week in Moscow. Definitely a major accomplishment on the Orange County cultural achievement roster.

In the audience on opening night was Alexander Zhukov, Russia's deputy prime minister, joining Anatoly Iksanov, the general director of the Bolshoi Theatre, and a contingent of Bolshoi trustees who had flown in for the opening night.

On Jan. 19, a private reception was held at Mastro's Steakhouse in Costa Mesa, honoring the generous underwriters who helped to make the significant east-west collaboration a reality. Zhukov made a grand toast to the crowd, stating "Here's to friendship, the arts and excellence."

Applause came from honored guests Richard and Virginia Hunsaker, Christina Lyon, George and Terry Schreyer, and Sutton and Christina Stracke. Also underwriting the event were members of the Segerstrom family and arts patrons Bill Gillespie and Michelle Rohé.

The premiere welcomed distinguished O.C. citizens Larry and Dee Higby. Higby is the new chairman at the Segerstrom Center, formerly the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The Higbys have been long-time advocates and generous patrons of the arts facility. They were joined by center President Terry Dwyer and visionary Vice President Judy Morr, who was largely responsible for the Bolshoi collaboration and the debut of "Reflections." Also front and center was distinguished Russian creative force Sergei Danilian, who has been instrumental collaborating with Morr and center staff on all of the Russian dance projects.

"Reflections" received thunderous applause in Segerstrom Hall. The production starred Maria Kochetkova, on loan from the San Francisco Ballet, Olga Malinovskaya of the Estonia Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin's Polina Seminova and the Bolshoi's Yekaterina Krysanova, Natalia Osipova, Yekaterina Shipulina and Anastasia Stashkevich. The ballerinas and their partners cast a spell over the crowd, given the phenomenal performance with costumes by Igor Chapurin and orchestration by Igor Dronov of the Bolshoi Theatre.

Opening night festivities culminated in a late night cast party sponsored by South Coast Plaza in Jewel court. Some 300 guests crossed Bristol Street for midnight shots of vodka with the dancers, the dignitaries and the donors. A late evening supper was served by Quattro Café. In the crowd were Lois and Barry Adams, Tricia Berns, Salwa Cohen, Kathy Fleming, Elie and Mike Gordon, Betty and S.L. Huang, Caroline and Bill Klein, Patricia and Bob Marshall, Catherine McLarand, Pat and Charlie Poss, Susan and Tim Strader, Valaree Wahler and major benefactors Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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