In ancient Greece, Dionysus was revered as the god of wine, fertility, and theater — among other delights. The deity of earthly pleasures surely must’ve been smiling at the Houston Ballet Ball, with its Grecian theme of “Heroes, Gods and Stars” and all its dramatic spectacle. The largest most successful fête in the company’s history paid homage to the ballet’s upcoming presentation of Sylvia, which centers on a Greek goddess and heroine and raised a record $1.6 million for the ballet.
The chilly Houston weather did nothing to deter the more than 500 partygoers who packed a one-of-a-kind party tent, crafted by Richard Flowers and The Events Company at the Houston Ballet Center for Dance. Guests were quickly photographed by gritty lensmen, whisked through a gold-draped entrance, and greeted by gold-painted models portraying gods and goddesses. The outdoor space morphed into a glamorous blue and gold tented ballroom; the week-long build immersed guests in a contemporary Grecian world gleaming with metallic elements and elegant yet edgy rifts on the upcoming ballet, Sylvia.
Gala chairs Kelley and Stephen Lubanko and Leigh and Reggie Smith mingled with the crowd, which featured a who’s-who of Houston A-listers and ballet brass such as executive director Jim Nelson. Kelley Lubanko and Leigh Smith were resplendent in custom crowns inspired by Sylvia; Dominique Sachse (accompanied as always by the dashing Nick Florescu) was stunning in a custom, shimmering piece. This year, ballet honored Leticia Loya and ConocoPhillips for their support over the years. Laura Robertson representing ConocoPhillips.
The cocktail area was draped in gold linens and more than 21 chandeliers hung throughout. Hand painted sketches of costumes from Sylvia hung over the blue walls around the main dining area while “Kaos,” a textured metallic fabric, hung from the ceiling. The tables, topped with sculptural arrangements of white florals, were named after Greek goddesses – many of which are seen throughout the performance.
Inside, partiers warmed themselves with cocktails and enjoyed libations and hors d’oeuvres while pursuing the silent auction items. Sought-after packages included 18 pieces from Tenenbaum Jewelers including an 18K white gold aquamarine and diamond ring and a pair of 18K yellow gold diamond clip earrings; a private ladies and gents lunch with Lynn Wyatt; an escape to mountain luxury at the Ritz-Carlton Club in Aspens Highland; and new to the auction, an exclusive party for 10 in the Houston Ballet’s Viewing Booth where guests will enjoy the witty tale of Merry Widow.
The dinner, prepared by City Kitchen, began with roasted duck and fig pie with salad of radishes, endive and arugula. The main course was seared sea bass with Thassos olive pesto and dill burre blanc, orzo risotto with lobster, dried red Chile and basil, eggplant roulades stuffed with spinach and gougeres with grilled manouri and black olives. For dessert, guests enjoyed vanilla panna cotta with kataifi, candied ginger, caramel sauce, white chocolate and toffee.
Following dinner, attendees packed the dance floor and danced the night away to the sounds of The Big Beyond, which was generously underwritten by Diane Lokey Farb — who cut quite the rug with power public relations pro Mark Sullivan. On the way out, guests received a small Sylvia-inspired bronze sculpture generously created and donated by artist Matthew Campbell Laurenza.
Seen in the crowd were: Stanton Welch, Jim Nelson, Margaret Alkek Williams, Diane Lokey Farb, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Amy LeBlanc Cloud, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Jennifer and Josh Gravenor, Melissa Juneau, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, Beth Muecke, Allison and Troy Thacker, Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, Melza and Ted Barr, Anne and Albert Chao, Jerry and Melaine Martin, Amy and Jordan Pincu, Richard and Kris McGee, Alicia Smith, Ann Trammell, Gillian and Don Hobson, Holly and Austin Alvis, Courtney and Bill Toomey, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Jo and Jim Furr, Jerry Ann Woodfin-Costa and Victor Costa, Jesse H. Jones II and Terry Wayne Jones, Martha and Marvin McMurrey, Duyen and Marc Nguyen, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Jennifer Bosch, Beth and Nick Zdeblick, Kevin and Karen Varner, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Richard Flowers, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Hallie Vanderhider, Jordan and Dylan Seff, Akemi Saitoh, Lynn Wyatt, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, and Beth Madison.