Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 | 4:04 p.m.
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It’s one of the most glittering and glamorous social events of the Las Vegas calendar. In fact, it’s been hailed as the creme de la creme of Las Vegas parties. Gorgeous gowns and sparkling jewelry at Nevada Ballet Theater’s 28th Annual Black and White Ball will match elegance and excitement Saturday with “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria in the spotlight.
There are added showbiz elements to this year’s celebration at Aria and Crystals at MGM’s CityCenter, with actress and singer Susan Anton joining celebrity auctioneer Christian Kolberg for the auction, plus Broadway beauty Leigh Zimmerman joining me on the paddle raise to secure more than $150,000 in scholarships for gifted students of Future Dance.
But the two highlights will be the Woman of the Year presentation to Eva and the surprise introduction of dance superstar Cynthia Gregory. Cynthia is joining the NBT family in time for the May 5 debut performance of the company at its new home in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
“I feel so lucky to have found this wonderful new home,” Cynthia said. “I have worked with many wonderful artists, George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins, and now I can be the direct connection between them and the marvelous dancers of Nevada Ballet.”
The ballet that most shaped Cynthia’s career was “Swan Lake,” and at Saturday’s gala, she will present the Black Swan Pas De Deux from that ballet with Sarah Fuhrman and Grigori Arakelyn.
CityCenter chiefs Bobby Baldwin and Bill McBeath co-chair the evening, with Bobby introducing Eva. She has won many awards, including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and People’s Choice, and also Philanthropist of the Year and serves as national spokeswoman for the nonprofit Padres organization committed to improving the quality of life for Latino children with cancer. Her foundation Eva’s Heroes helps young adults with developmental challenges.
Her boyfriend Eduardo Cruz, the brother of Oscar-winning actress Penelope Cruz, will accompany Eva, who co-owns Beso at Crystals. Eva follows in the ballet slippers of past honorees Priscilla Presley last year, Celine Dion, Marie Osmond, Bette Midler and Debbie Reynolds. Eva stars in the upcoming “Baytown Disco” with Billy Bob Thornton and this summer shoots “Cristiada” in Mexico with Andy Garcia and Peter O’Toole.
Cartier in Crystals will host an early evening VIP cocktail reception to welcome Eva. NBT dancers will perform at the cocktail reception at Aria’s Ironwood Ballroom, with a celebrity red carpet before dinner and the auction.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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