A hallmark of dance and the arts now has a new name, one that honors a tireless benefactor. Houston Ballet’s headquarters downtown will now be known as the Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance. The surprise announcement was made during a dinner celebrating Williams’ lifetime support of the Ballet.
The news comes as the Houston Ballet also announced a $10 million legacy gift bestowed by Alkek Williams, a longtime ballet supporter. Funds will be directed to the Houston Ballet Endowment and unfettered support of the ballet’s mission, according to a press release.
Alkek Williams support dates back to1989, when she joined the Houston Ballet’s board of trustees. Her legacy includesThe Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation Principal Dancer, a dancer endowment that aims to attract and retain top-tier dancers.
“It is because Margaret has been such a cherished friend, enlightened leader, and generous benefactor that we will meaningfully honor her legacy in perpetuity,” said Houston Ballet executive director, James Nelson, in a statement. “Her significant patronage to the Houston Ballet will forever represent cornerstones of Houston Ballet’s history.”
In 2003, the same year Stanton Welch assumed ballet directorship of the company, Alkek Williams underwrote Swan Lake, Welch’s first full length classical ballet staged for the company. Her support of the ballet has led to its Center for Dance’s black box theater to be dubbed the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab. The state-of-the-art rehearsal space also offers free education programming to all Houstonians, mostly students.
In 2017 Alkek Williams endowed the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance in perpetuity. The move cemented her status as a founding member of the Etoile Society, which recognizes the Ballet’s most generous supporters.
“I am so proud to see the Houston Ballet become an international arts’ ambassador for our city,” said Margaret Alkek Williams. “I am deeply honored that the iconic Center for Dance building, where ballet company members can be seen twirling or leaping in the studios from the windows,” will bear my name. It is my sincere hope that as one walks through the doors they will continue to learn, enjoy and excel in this beautiful art form.”
“Margaret is truly a prima philanthropist,” said Welch in a statement. “There will never be a last dance with Margaret, as she is, and will forever be, a testament and treasure to all our city’s world-class arts’ organizations.”