The decor, the dinner, the dancing — the Houston Ballet Ball soared Saturday night with inspiration dawning from the romantic "From Russia With Love" theme. The wintry woodland decor provided a dreamy backdrop for the grand tableau of Houston's finest digging deep into their pockets to raise nearly $1 million for the company.
The ballet's revival of Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty, music by Russian composer Tchaikovsky, inspired the theme, which was interpreted by Richard Flowers and The Events Co. in icy splendor. Applause, applause for chairs Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, who embraced the elegant theme, leading to the night's success.
The Grand Foyer of Wortham Theater Center was draped in 3,280 yards of mirror organza, which shimmered from the ceilings 70 feet overhead. Tables, draped in white, were underlit by LED lights and topped with dramatic white branches hung with flower balls. At their base, fragrant paper whites sprouted from banks of "snow." Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch enthusiastically described the scene as "an amazing frozen palace."
While decor was the first thing to enchant the 420 guests, the dinner menu had them swooning. Jackson and Co. orchestrated the beautiful meal that began with a dollop of Royal Transmontana caviar and shots of chilled Double Cross vodka, presented on trays of crushed ice. In keeping with the Russian theme, the menu continued with a roasted beet tower and the entree featuring beef Stroganoff served in lidded bowls and accompanied by whipped potatoes, haricots vert, and tri-color carrots. For dessert, the venerable caterer created honey layer cakes coated in Fabergé egg patterns.
And then the dancing began with Atlanta's Party on the Moon, a killer band that kept the dance floor packed throughout the night. It's a favorite of Diane Lokey Farb, who underwrote the band's appearance, and a favorite of ballet board president Phoebe Tudor, who — not too long ago — first introduced the band to Houston by booking it for Bobby Tudor's 50th birthday party.
The evening honored Jay Jones, who has been a ballet trustee since 1983, is a past board president and currently executive committee member and was instrumental in helping the ballet raise $50 million for its state-of-the-art dance facility.
"It's our second largest fundraiser behind the Nutcracker Market, which raises about $5 million," noted ballet general manager Jim Nelson. "We hope to raise $1 million tonight. This is very important to our fundraising efforts."
Tenenbaum Classic Jewelers Kevin Black and Tony Bradfield added to the glitz and glam of the night by not only providing more than a dozen pieces of to-die-for jewelry for auction but also by dressing several of the city's leading ladies in fabulous gems.
The glitterati included Terry Wayne Jones, Margaret Alkek Williams, Kelly and Stephen Lubanko, Lynn Wyatt, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Leigh and Reggie Smith, John and Becca Cason Thrash, Jean and Henry May, Rose Cullen, Jo and Jim Furr, Henry Richardson and Monsour Taghdisi, Heidi and Marcus Smith, and Dr. Roland Maldonado.