L.A. Dance Project’s 2023 Gala Celebrates Misty Copeland

Artistic Director Benjamin Millepied and members of the company took to the Vibiana stage to perform and also to honor the acclaimed ballerina

Photography courtesy of BFA


Misty Copeland, Benjamin Millepied.


Looking ahead to his company’s next decade, L.A. Dance Project’s Benjamin Millepied took to the stage to premiere a new duet while also honoring San Pedro–raised dancer Misty Copeland at the company’s 11th annual gala presented by Van Cleef & Arpels, held on Saturday, November 11, at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. Lucinda Lent, the company’s executive director, and board chair Mark Terbeek welcomed guests with the announcement of the company’s downtown studio expansion doubling audience capacity, increasing rehearsal space, and adding facilities including an open-to-the-public dance library and research room. Residencies, educational outreach, and other collaborative programs are also slated to grow with the new spaces.

Jane Fonda, Alicia Silverstone, Doug Aitken, Lucy McRae, Kevin Kwan, Angela Lindvall, Nick Fouquet, Chloe Sims, Berite Labelle, Orly Marley, Jasmine Daniels, Timothy Potts, Sara Mearns, Marc Murphy, Vas J Morgan, Manuela Dalle, Marla Mayer and Chris Ahearn, Georgina Huljich and Marcelo Spina, Lawrence Bender, Robert van Leer, Snehal Desai, Kristin Sakoda, Erwin Washington and Tamica Washington-Miller all took their seats inside Vibiana’s main hall after courtyard cocktails and a candlelit processional from choral group Agape International Choir. “It means the world to me to see all these familiar faces,” said Millepied, LADP’s co-founder and artistic director. “We’ve created a company that speaks the language of the artists in the city,” he added, before initiating LADP’s annual Balanchine-inspired tequila toast (the New York City Ballet founder relied on vodka).


Jane Fonda, Misty Copeland, Alicia Silverstone.


In celebration of Copeland, Millepied said, “I’ve known Misty for some years and been touched by the way she’s expressed herself with so much intelligence.” Next, multihyphenate creative Debbie Allen took to the stage to introduce Copeland, American Ballet Theatre’s first Black principal ballerina, noting, “After 75 years you came and you shattered all the glass ceilings.” Additionally, Allen announced LADP’s new Class Pass program offering no-cost access to performances and studio space to members of the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles. Copeland, who began dancing at age 13 after a class at the San Pedro outpost of the club, credits the organization with nurturing her talent and acknowledged Allen and Millepied, adding, “This is what we should be doing. Benjamin, thank you for your passion and continuing to push this art form forward.”

Members of LADP performed excerpts from The Missing Mountain, choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, as well as Millepied’s abstract Be Here Now inspired by Andy Akhio’s Seven Pillars composition for a percussion quartet. Students enrolled in the Everybody Dance LA! Summer Dance Intensive also took the stage to perform, following a short film documenting the program. And Millepied premiered a dramatic new duet with company member Daphne Fernberger—marking his much-anticipated stateside return to the stage—set to Jeff Buckley’s haunting Lover, You Should Have Come Over from the singer’s 1994 album Grace.


Gigi Fouquet, Nick Fouquet, Sarni Rodgers, Molly Bewolf Swanson.



Angela Lindvall and Elonna Jersett.



Doug Aitken, Shu Kinouchi.


Feature image, center: Benjamin Millepied, Daphne Fernberger.


November 15, 2022

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