The 'Raw' theme of the Academy for Performing Arts' gala ball in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt hotel certainly lived up to its name. The night kicked off with a performance on a tiered stage, with curtains doubling as a projection screen. Images of urban life were shown on the screen between performances by students and graduates of the academy's six schools - music, dance, drama, Chinese opera, television and film, and theatre arts. The ballroom's setting was chic and masculine, mimicking a work site with wire netting and assorted car parts, among other props. Tablecloths were ditched and table numbers spray-painted on the bare metal tabletops, while staff were dressed in black kung fu tops, calf-length pants and white plimsolls, sponsored by lifestyle brand Goods of Desire (G.O.D). The food was nothing remarkable but few will forget the 'celery juice' they drank. Laughter broke out when the emcee revealed it was actually the sauce for the crab meat and mango salad starter. To raise funds to support the development of young talent - which was compared to raw diamonds yet to be polished - Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery donated a painting by Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang as a raffle prize. A diamond-studded Roger Dubuis watch was auctioned for HK$600,000. Monica Wong, the academy's development committee chairwoman, and Professor Kevin Thompson, the academy's director, gave welcoming speeches after the opening performance. Guests at Thursday night's ball included veteran actress May Law Koon-lan, politician Michael Tien Puk-sun, lawyer Brandon Chau Kwok-fung and G.O.D founder Douglas Young Chi-chiu.