Someone must have rubbed the magical oil lamp before balletomanes arrived at Wortham Theater Center as a trio of sexy genies awaited to escort guests on an exotic carpet ride up to the Grand Foyer of Wortham Theater Center. No one said that elevators can't be fun, right?
Every impeccable detail at the Houston Ballet "La mille et deuxième nuit (The Thousand and Second Night)" ball Saturday was designed to summon the palatial opulence of the sultans and princesses of Aladdin. Stunning turquoise fabrics, arabesque video projections and hanging decor that mimicked a brightly colored stained glass cupola were just the beginning of this Middle Eastern party themed after the company's upcoming American premiere production.
Gala chair S. Shawn Stephens — donning a dynamic hot pink Oscar de la Renta gown embellished with gold bullion embroidery — plus Richard Flowers from The Events Company and Linda Limb of Limb Design imagined it all. The auction area as a busy bazaar, a Turkish coffee bar with all the fixings plus sweets and even Abu, the kleptomaniac monkey, impersonated by a much friendlier primate who loved to drink wine. Needless to say, this little creature felt right at home schmoozing with Houston's upper echelon.
The stylish affair bowed to the Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine, represented by executive vice president Roberta Schwartz and Interim Chairman of the Department of Orthopedics Dr. Kevin Varner, for its efforts to keep dancers healthy and on their toes, literally. As artistic director Stanton Welch was celebrating a decade with his company of movers and shakers, his troupe was eager to surprise him with an impromptu piece.
Who knew soloist Oliver Halkowich was also quite the talent with video? A witty short film shot and edited by this cavalier culminated with the corps marching onto the dance floor for an elegantly choreographed "One Singular Sensation" number from A Chorus Line, a musical with which Welch has a personal connection. As if Lynn Wyatt was returning the gesture from last year's gala surprise, she sashayed onto the limelight to offer congratulations in the most appropriate way — through dance.
After dinner catered by City Kitchen, it was the Infinite Groove band's turn to shine, ushering more people than usual to show their moves.
Enjoying this faraway wonderland were Jim Jordan, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Carmina Zamorano, Nancy Arreguin, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Rose and Harry Cullen, Garth Welch and Marilyn Jones, Jim Jordan, Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu, Patti and Don Murphy, Jacqueline and Leon Kinloch, Martha Turner and Glenn Bauguss, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Margaret Alkek Williams, Joanne King Herring, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw and Christine and Chris Transier.