01/24/2012 01:30 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2012

San Francisco Ballet Opening Gala 2012: Local Celebrities Dazzle As Season (PHOTOS)

Winter storms didn't keep the city's elite from descending on City Hall Thursday evening for the opening of the 79th season of the San Francisco Ballet, the nation's oldest professional ballet company.

Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, dubbed "one of the spectacular success stories stories of the arts in America" by the New York Times, mingled with Dede Wilsey, O.J. Shansby and other usual socialite suspects as grand benefactors dined in the Rotunda. Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins, Google It Girl Marissa Mayer and Yahoo founder Jerry Yang also made appearances.

A performance of "Bella Notte," choreographed by the master himself, followed at the nearby Opera House. Before the curtain rose, Ballet Chairman John Osterweis announced that the show would be dedicated to the memory of beloved local philanthropist Warren Hellman, who passed away late last year.

"Warren was one of my closest friends," Osterweis said, according to SFGate's Catherine Bigelow. "It was Warren and his wife, Chris Hellman (Ballet chairman emeritus), who recruited me to this organization 25 years ago. Without their support, our ballet would not be the world-class company it is. From the bottom of my heart, Warren, thank you, thank you, thank you."

Take a look at images from the star-studded evening below, then click over to our exclusive interview with principal dancer Damian Smith for more (photographs courtesy of our friends at Drew Altizer photography):



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