The buzz was palpable as more than 400 Houston A-listers and VIPs descended upon the Wortham Center for the Houston Ballet Ball, this year dubbed “Jewels” in a nod to the ballet’s new run of George Balanchine’s Jewels.
The fete, celebrating the ballet’s return to the elegantly adorned Wortham, drew society icons and mainstays (Margaret Alkek Williams, Lynn Wyatt) as well as newcomers such as Chris Shepherd and wife Lindsey Brown (resplendent in her emerald dress) and Channel 2’s Owen Conflenti (who told us he’s doing his best to get out to more events).
Chaired by Stephanie and Frank Tsuru along with Kelli and John Weinzierl, the dazzling affair raised $1.4 million for the ballet and its programs.
Decked out in black tie, ornate gowns, flowing capes (none other than Tootsies creative director Fady Armanious), and fittingly, dazzling jewels, the crowd snapped photos in front of a wall of rafted out of both painted and real pointe shoes and bid on a host of in-demand auction items. Choice bids went to a .51 Carat Colombian Muzo emerald, an exclusive lunch with Wyatt; an overnight stay at the historic Spread Oaks Ranch; and a five-night Deer Valley vacation.
In homage to the jewels theme, Richard Flowers of The Events Company bejeweled the grand foyer of the Wortham with gemstones and the balconies with necklaces. Tables were decorated with emerald tablecloths and ruby-red centerpieces, even the dance floor boasted a gemstone theme. Speaking of jewels, guests clamored for the lash and gemstone station for that extra pop.
Notably absent was the ballet’s cast of dancers, who normally make the rounds to each table. Artistic director Stanton Welch explained to the crowd the cast stayed home to keep safe for performances). But life-sized images of the principals kept them close to heart.
Before and after the sumptuous dinner, which also played on the jewel theme, the party band Gen 8 presented by Elan Artists rocked out hits that played on the night (think Rihanna’s “(Shine Bright like a) Diamond”) as performers joined revelers on the dance floor in a night that truly shimmered like a sparkling jewel.
Shining bright in the crowd were Lynn Wyatt, Margaret Alkek Williams, Deborah and Edward Koehler, Lauren Anderson, Laura Robertson, Anne and Albert Chao, Richard Flowers, Beth and Nick Zdeblick, Jordan Seff, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Allison and Troy Thacker, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Jesse H. Jones II and Terry Wayne Jones, S. Shawn Stephens and James M. Jordan, Alan May, Bonnie Weekley, Rose Cullen, Kelli Weinzierl, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Liz Schwarze, Mignon and Steve Gill, Claudia and David Hatcher, Chad Libertus, Jerry and Melanie Martin, Yana and Warren McFatter, Kent Schaffer and Shara Kuy, Lilly and Harrison Cullen, Gillian Hobson, Jim Nelson, Stanton Welch AM, Jerry Ann Woodfin-Costa and Victor Costa, Martha and Marvin McMurrey, Ann Trammell, Rene Chapman-Wood and Christina Foley, Pamela and Bruce Earthman, Kate Dearing Fowler and Stephen Fowler, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, Jo and Jim Furr, Beth Muecke, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Susan and Gary Binney, Amy LeBlanc, Mark Sullivan, Chris Hendel, and Ileana and Michael Treviño.