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Los Angeles Ballet to Honor Kenny Ortega and More at Annual Gala, Nigel Lythgoe to Host


Los Angeles Ballet to Honor Kenny Ortega and More at Annual Gala, Nigel Lythgoe to Host

Los Angeles Ballet (LAB), the city's own and only professional classical ballet company, will celebrate its Season 14 Gala on Friday, February 28 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. This year's honorees are producer, director, choreographer Kenny Ortega who will receive the Industry Excellence Award, designer, creative director and philanthropist Gelila Assefa Puck who will be receiving the Global Impact Award and Anastasia Soare, CEO and founder of Anastasia Beverly Hills, who will be receiving the Angel Award.

The Gala will be emceed by Nigel Lythgoe and will follow the final performance of Los Angeles Ballet's exquisite production of Balachine's Black & White. The evening's co-chairs are Sharon Davis, Ghada Irani, Leslie Kavanaugh, Lori Milken and Kirsten Sarkisian.

Now approaching their 15th season, the Gala supports Los Angeles Ballet's mission to provide world-class performances and provide diverse arts education outreach opportunities throughout Southern California. As the arts continue to be underfunded and absent from public school curricula, Los Angeles Ballet strives to share the gift of dance with the broadest possible audience and to give back to the community that has so generously supported it. LAB's A Chance to Dance offers free classes for all ages and their Power of Performance (POP) provides thousands of free tickets to special needs children and adults, military families, veterans, seniors, and others through collaboration with 50 social service community partners.

Los Angeles Ballet is known for its superb stagings of the Balanchine repertory, stylistically meticulous classical ballets and its commitment to new works. It was founded in 2004 by artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary and recently retired executive director, Julie Whittaker.

Past honorees include Paula Abdul, Lawrence Bender, Sofia Carson, Governor Gray Davis & Sharon Davis, Robert Day, Jenna Dewan, Linda Duttenhaver, Derek Hough, Ghada Irani, Nigel Lythgoe, Lori Milken, Jane Seymour, Adam Shankman, Johnese Spisso and Ben Vereen.

For additional information about Los Angeles Ballet and the 2020 Gala please visit Los Angeles Ballet.

Kenny Ortega

Kenny Ortega is a multi-award-winning director, choreographer, and producer. One of the top creatives in television and film today, Ortega is known for the "High School Musical" franchise, which earned him a Primetime Emmy and Directors Guild of America Award. He is also the executive producer for the film's multi-platinum soundtracks. In 2008, Ortega directed and executive produced "High School Musical 3: Senior Year (HSM 3)" for Walt Disney Motion Pictures. "HSM 3" was the biggest theatrical box office opening for a musical in history.

Widely acclaimed for his genre-bending work in musicals, drama, comedy, and family programs, Ortega has directed and/or choreographed international phenomenons including the "Descendants" trilogy, "Newsies," "Hocus Pocus," "Dirty Dancing," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," and "Pretty in Pink," among others.

This year, Netflix will release his next directorial project "Julie and the Phantoms," a family musical television series. In 2019, Ortega directed "Descendants 3," the third installment of the widely successful Disney Channel trilogy. In 2017, the "Descendants 2" Soundtrack debuted at #1 on iTunes. Other recent work include "A Change of Heart" (winner of the OUTshine Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature),"The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again" for FOX (which premiered during Halloween 2016), and The Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Special for Freeform.

In 2002, Ortega was honored with Directing and Choreography Emmy awards for his work as supervising chorographer and co-artistic director of the Salt Lake Olympic Ceremonies and in 1996, earned an Emmy and American Choreography award for the Atlanta Olympic Ceremonies.

Ortega has also received two Director's Guild of America Awards, The Fred & Adele Astaire Lifetime Achievement Award, Bob Fosse Award, American Choreography Lifetime Achievement Award, MTV Video Music Award, American Music Award, Billboard Award, ALMA Award, Nosotros Golden Eagle Award, Imagen Creative Achievement Award, and an NAACP Image Award, among others.

Gelila Assefa Puck

Gelila Assefa Puck is an internationally recognized fashion designer, global Creative Director, women's and children's health and education advocate and award-winning philanthropist. Gelila is the Creative Director for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, where she oversees branding for thevcompany and the launch of all fine dining restaurants. Her role includes designing and renovating the restaurants worldwide. She has worked with renowned architects such as Frank Gehry, Thierry Despont, Jacques Garcia, Massimiliano Locatelli and Tony Chi. Gelila has also used her creative sensibilities and passion for the arts to integrate the influence of exemplary local and globally known artists into the restaurants. As an advocate for Los Angeles based artists, she uses her platform to support both emerging and established artists. She has done this through high profile events and curated experiences featuring Los Angeles based artists such as John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Mark Grotjahn, Catherine Opie, Sterling Ruby, Alex Israel and many more.

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Gelila immigrated to the United States to escape the oppression and mass killings of women during the Red Terror in Ethiopia. In 2010 she founded the Dream for Africa Foundation, a 501(c)(3), as a way to honor and provide support to the people of Africa. With a mission to empower passionate and hard-working individuals throughout Africa to find a path to self-sufficiency, DFFAF has successfully built and sustained a vocational training center that is currently educating more than two hundred and fifty students in the areas of sewing and garment manufacturing, computer training, micro finance and more. In 2018, DFFAF began supporting under privileged women living with HIV/AIDS. Funds granted by DFFAF are bringing hope and opportunity to women who would otherwise have no means for supporting themselves. Through building knowledge, skills, assets, capabilities, and financial conditions, the quality of these women's lives is dramatically improved. More than one hundred and seventy-five women are currently being served through funds granted by DFFAF. The children of these women are also provided with much needed basic education through these funds, so that they too may have the chance for a bright future. More than three hundred and eighty family members are currently supported under DFFAF. Gelila broadens her work towards progress in Africa as the Global Citizen Ambassador, where she uses her voice to champion issues like poverty & education across all of Africa.

Gelila also serves on the board of trustees for Children's Institute Inc., which serves more than 24,000 children and families living in Los Angeles. They strive to break through the barriers of poverty and provide hope to the community they serve. Currently, she and along with the co-board members are in the middle of capital campaign to fund the Frank Gehry designed building in the city of Watts. She takes great pride for making this happen for the city of Watts. "When a community sees a beautiful treatment center built by one of the most sought after architect Frank Gehry in Watts neighborhood that is just for them, knowing the dynamic of that entire neighborhood can change for better. It was the easiest call to make."

Anastasia Soare

Beauty pioneer, creative visionary and powerhouse entrepreneur, Anastasia Soare is Founder, CEO and driving force behind Anastasia Beverly Hills-one of the fastest-growing brands in the global beauty industry. Soare immigrated to the U.S. from Romania without language skills or financial means; instead, she leveraged a fierce resolve and education in art and architecture to fuel her entrepreneurial vision and unique approach to beauty. In 1990, she introduced a new "brow-shaping" service to clients-later patented as the Golden Ratio® Eyebrow Shaping Method-that has gone on to become a staple service and enduring new category in modern beauty. Soare continues to push boundaries today, expanding beyond the brow category with the company's leading prestige cosmetics line. Her capacity for driving growth through innovation and organizational focus on customers has become a hallmark of her leadership and the ABH brand. Soare's gift as artist and entrepreneur is complemented by an ease and grace with customers with whom she connects daily in video tutorials and personal appearances around the world. Her audience spans the globe and comprises many of its most famous faces who rely on her unique vision of individual beauty to amplify their own.

Soare has achieved iconic status in her 25-year journey to self-made entrepreneur and American success story. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Elle and Allure, among numerous other publications, and has appeared on such television shows as The Doctor Oz Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and America's Next Top Model. Soare's belief in beauty's power to transform extends to her lifelong work for women and children and the establishment of The Anastasia Brighter Horizon Foundation, which supports and advances the lives of young adults exiting the foster care system.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

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