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Last Thursday night, guests of Charleston Ballet Theatre’s annual Oscar Gala were treated to an evening of glamour and entertainment at this Hollywood-style affair. At the start, Charleston style director Ayoka Lucas greeted red-carpet arrivals with fashion commentary, setting the tone for the exciting evening ahead and assessing who would be the winner of the night’s Best Dressed.

In the theatre, Charleston Ballet Theatre resident choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr introduced the company’s “favorite movies to be danced” spin on the Academy Awards. And following a screened clip of five Oscar-nominated films, CBT dancers performed specially choreographed numbers for each. For Pixar’s animated How to Train Your Dragon, a duo commemorated the first time the young boy met the dragon, expressing both fright and curiosity in their movements. Minutes later, dancers Peter Swan, James Peronto, Gwenyth Kelley, and Jennifer Balcerzack Muller wowed the crowd with their dramatic and thrilling expression of Black Swan. Other films included The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and The Social Network; each were exceptional, emotional performances.

After the mini-ballet performances at the CBT black box theater, guests walked across King Street and through a swarm of “paparazzi” to the American Theatre, where they would continue to indulge in an evening of great pleasure for a good cause. At the entry, John Dunnan’s oil painting Black Swan was an apt reference to the Oscar-nominated film, as well as a work of art included in the silent auction.

As guests made their way into the dining area, they were provided ballots to vote for their favorite table design, for which 12 local designers created extravagant tablescapes to correlate with past award-winning movies. Tiger Lily Florist was awarded best table for her Dracula-inspired design, using candles, roses, and potion.  

As my table mates and I were taking in and discussing the details of our own design—Lee Hilderbrand’s interpretation of Cleopatra, courtesy of Connie Duglin Linens—an elegant three-course dinner prepared by Fish restaurant was served. And before meal’s end, the peacock feather accents from our table had become part of Ayoka’s and pal, Elizabeth Bowers’, wardrobes!  

After a delightful dessert of beignets and champagne, Ayoka took the stage to announce the night’s Best Dressed—Jennifer Beall, Joyce Burdick and Cynthia Altizer—awarding them each with an opening night ticket to Charleston Fashion Week in March.

To cap off the evening’s festivities, improv troupe The Have Nots performed their own side-splitting interpretations of the Oscar-nominated films which opened the gala, leaving patrons, guests, and dancers alike fulfilled with delight and laughter.

The Oscar Gala raised funds to support Charleston Ballet Theatre and its mission to continue educating the young dancers of the greater Charleston community.

Written by Liz Frierson