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American Ballet Theater performs 'Nutcracker' for benefit

After an absence of seven years, the American Ballet Theater returned to Los Angeles with a splashy Kodak Theater bow for “The Nutcracker” that included a family-day benefit Dec. 14. Boys and girls tried out ballet steps and costumes, took photos with dancers and made cards and beaded jewelry before enjoying lunch and a matinee performance.

As she surveyed the packed room, event co-chair Nancy Marks said the company probably would make an annual appearance at the venue.

“Ballet is a way for children to express their feelings,” Marks said. Referring to coping with the events of Sept. 11, she added, “If kids learn at an early age to express, to communicate … it’s our way of helping.”

Cindy Crawford, another co-chair, said since moving to the Left Coast she had wanted to bring some of that Gotham culture to L.A. “The whole experience of going to the theater or ballet, in New York it’s more of a (regular) event.”

Other co-chairs were Kelly Chapman Meyer and Lori Milken.

The benefit, underwritten by the Milken Family Foundation, raised $200,000 for the ballet company to be used in helping educate the nation’s inner cities via summer programs and offering free tickets to performances.

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