Joan Smalls and Gabrielle Union See All Photos Johnny Nunez/WireImage See All Photos

Dance aficionados of all ages congregated at New York City Center in Midtown Manhattan last night for the opening of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater—the world-renowned dance company’s 25th season since the untimely death of its celebrated founder, choreographer Alvin Ailey. With his fresh eye, energetic style, and persistence in giving dancers of all backgrounds a chance to perform, Ailey paved the way for the future of American dance. And one of the many legacies Mr. Ailey left behind was his beloved troupe, which inaugurated yet another year onstage yesterday evening. The event attracted many lovers and supporters of African dance, including InStyle‘s Man of Style Taye Diggs, Joan Smalls, and honorary event chair Gabrielle Union. When asked what she loved most about the theater, Union jokingly told InStyle.com, “It’s where real talent lives – the people who don’t need takes and extra editing and close-ups and filters and everything else that we frauds like to use.”

The show commenced with the company’s premiere of Chroma, a wildly dynamic effort by British choreographer Wayne McGregor, set to music by Joby Talbot and orchestrations by Jack White (of The White Stripes). After a brief intermission, Union took to the stage to give a speech and introduce the second act, Revelations, a historic work that, according to Union, “has been seen by more people throughout the world than any other work of modern dance.” She continued, “It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve seen before – it never gets old and it never loses its power to transport us.” Union then polled the audience, listing off legendary talents who danced for Alvin Ailey and inquiring whether or not they had seen them in the flesh.

But whether members of the audience had seen Ailey’s pupils perform or not, each was treated to a fantastic production by the future of his company, half of whom were formerly scholarship students at The Ailey School. And the admired choreographer’s legend lives on: The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater raised $2.4 million, which will go towards giving other students the opportunity to perform.

Plus, see more celebrities from this week’s parties!

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