After four years of mostly virtual socializing, interrupted by protests and Covid-19, AmCham revived its ball themed around innovation and technology. Titled, “The Future is Now: An Innovator’s Gala,” the gala brought glitz, glamor and winged women of influence to the ballroom of the Ocean Park Marriott on October 14.
Photos: AmCham HK
This year, AmCham President Eden Woon invited Victor Wong to serve as the overall production designer of the event, featuring latest technologies such as 3D printing for table centerpieces (which were also one of the table gifts for guests) and external reality (XR). These gave the overall impression of a ballroom turned spaceship from another dimension. Wong and his production team manned a table with his A.I. Gemini robot arm, the first ever AI ink artist and his A.I. Art Gallery with images generated by event goers. At the front door, another innovative technology company, Votion Studios orchestrated its ultra-slow motion cameras – first of their kind in Hong Kong – to capture images of partygoers in Hollywood style.
And Septime Webre, who has transformed Hong Kong Ballet with his choreography and ability to recruit some of the best young dancers from Hong Kong and around the world, talked about new horizons of technology and dance, where dancers may interact with holograms of themselves and dance legends in the next iteration of performance space.
During his 17 years as artistic director of the Washington Ballet, Webre increased the company’s dance school from 300 students to 1,500, and became a rock star of dance in the nation’s capital. Since he joined the HK Ballet in July 2017, he has charmed fans through his storytelling and passion for making ballet relevant to the Hong Kong public, weaving 1920s Hong Kong history and customs into his version of “The Nutcracker”, for example.
It was not all about tech, but also to celebrate human creativity and philanthropy in raising funds for the AmCham Charitable Foundation, which is a separate charitable arm of the Chamber with a mission of giving back to the community. Trustee Gayatri Bery opened the night by introducing Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Joseph Armas, who gave an overview of the Foundation through a pre-recorded video.
The evening climaxed with Christie’s auctioneer Liang-lin Chen as she pounded her hammer in a live auction on over prizes donated by supporters of the Foundation, many featuring travel near and far. These ranged from a night at HK Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”, packaged with dining at Morton’s Steakhouse, and a stay at the Sheraton Hong Kong, to a sophisticated London ramble brought by Cathay Pacific and The Hari London. Along the way, revelers could bid on stays at Allan Zeman’s Andara Resort in Phuket, the Amata Spring Country Club outside Bangkok, the Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi and – breaking with the travel theme – a one-of-a-kind artwork by Victor Wong’s A.I. Gemini ink artist.
A silent auction continued throughout the night. The prizes featured more local and exotic hotel stays, a “Felix experience” for four at the Peninsula’s iconic restaurant, a round of golf at the hyper-exclusive Shek O Country Club, weekends at the Wynn Palace in Macau, Ritz-Carlton stays in Fukuoka and Pudong, and more. The Lucky Draw possibly beat the pack with two round trip business class tickets to the US from United Airlines and a drone from HKUST.
With the support of donors and bidders, the Foundation raised HK$464,000 which will go directly to scholarship programs and local non-profit organizations to develop meaningful projects. These include helping minority communities with work readiness, empowering disadvantaged people with special needs to become more economically active, and creating a next generation of workforce and business leaders for the future economy.
Participants were enjoined to “dance until you drop” and most did. Among the open questions of the night were what were the winged Women of Influence doing? We understand they ordered their glittery wing sets from Tao Bao, but we didn’t ask the price and we somehow thought they deserved their angelic image.
Over the next weeks or so, the Chamber received hundreds of congratulatory emails, texts and phone calls about the success of the event. It could not have been possible without the support of its patrons and donors. It’s never too early to start planning for next year’s party!