In a fitting homage to artistic director Stanton Welch's hallmark of the 2017/2018 season, Swan Lake marked the theme of the 2018 Houston Ballet Ball.
After being displaced from its home at the Wortham Center by Hurricane Harvey in September 2017, the Ballet has persevered, performing at various venues throughout the Bayou City. And so it was with this year’s gala: a rousing success, despite also temporarily being moved from the Wortham.
And what a dazzling substitute space it was. Held inside a glamorous tented ballroom located adjacent to the Houston Ballet Center downtown, the venue was transformed into an homage to the three-act production composed by Tchaikovsky via a week-long build-out. Richard Flowers and The Events Company created a visual feast for the eyes, contrasting the white swan and black swan in the classical ballet.
Nearly 500 guests entered the black-tie soiree to find two custom-made, large swans hanging high above a pond, and were greeted by several Houston Ballet Academy students dressed as various swans and henchmen. They were also greeted by the stunning chair Hallie Vanderhider, who donned a custom, black Naeem Khan Couture gown made with 3,500 natural coque feathers. (Vanderhider wowed the crowd a second time, with an outfit change to a fuchsia Monique Lhuillier gown, later in the evening.)
After enjoying hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, and free-flowing champagne, guests perused a silent auction, which included a two-week stay for five at Villa Da Motta in Veddo di Maccagno, Italy, and a New York Fashion Week package including two tickets to spring 2019 fashion shows for Oscar de la Renta, Naeem Khan, Carolina Herrera, and Pamella Roland. They then made their way through long, dangling, silver curtains to the dining room.
From the floors and table linens to the centerpieces and feather chandeliers, each side of the room was dedicated to either all-black or all-white decor, split down the center by a mirrored runway with five crystal chandeliers hanging above.
In keeping with the black and white theme, City Kitchen catering presented a multi-course meal, which featured a first course of jumbo lump crab meat with white asparagus, charred lemon coulis, and shaved black truffles, and an entree of beef tenderloin and grilled sea bass with black beluga lentils and wilted baby kale. Chocolate sponge cake with white cake crumbles and chocolate truffles coated in white chocolate and topped with chocolate mousse were served for dessert.
Following dinner, partygoers danced the night away to music by Party on the Moon, generously underwritten by Diane Lokey Farb for the fourth year in a row.
The annual event raised more than $1.4 million for Houston Ballet making it the most successful Ballet Ball in its history.
Adding another celebratory note: After being displaced by Hurricane Harvey since September the announcement was made mid-February that the Houston Ballet returns to its home at the Wortham Center for the 2018-2019 season.
Showing their support were Lynn Wyatt, Rose Cullen, Margaret Alkek Williams, Pat Breen, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, Joanne King Herring, Alicia and Lance Smith, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Courtney and Bill Toomey, Beth Muecke, Terry Wayne Jones, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, and Shannon Hall and Marcus Sloan.
Also enjoying the evening were KPRC evening anchor Dominique Sachse and her husband, Nick Florescu, KHOU evening anchor Rekha Muddaraj, KPRC weatherman Frank Billingsley and Kevin Gilliard, Melissa Juneau, Samira Salman, Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, Becca Cason Thrash and John Thrash, Isabel and Danny David, and Jo and Jim Furr.