Event Date: March 5, 2021
Location: Various homes
Event: Virtual Gala
No. of Attendees: 250
Money Raised: $850,000
Beneficiary: Houston Ballet
Ballet Ball Committee Hosts: Fady Armanious, Susan Binney, Kristy J. Bradshaw, Anne Chao, Jo Furr, Gillian Hobson, Jesse H. Jones II, Mark Loveland, Kelley Lubanko, Beth Muecke, Alicia Smith, Leigh Smith, Liliana Soltero, S. Shawn Stephens, Stephanie Tsuru, Phoebe Tudor, Christine Underwood, Hallie Vanderhider, Kelli Weinzierl, and Beth Zdeblick
Honorees: Dr. Marc Boom, Dr. Victor Fainstein, Dr. Joshua Harris, Dr. Vijay Jotwani, and Dr. Kevin Varner
Event Décor: The Events Company
Photography: Wilson Parish and Michelle Watson, Catchlight Group
“Having a Ball” with Houston Ballet
Not even the Texas ice storm could freeze them out!
Our city’s non-profits have become quite accustomed to having to punt during the Covid crisis, but none of us were prepared for the ice storm during late February and the havoc it would create for many in the community. Busted water pipes and no electricity in homes and businesses gave us another disaster to weather. Once again, you can’t keep a good Houstonian down! The Houston Ballet Ball was another example of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” as the proverbial saying goes. This always well-attended and high-brow late winter gala became a virtual soirée for the nearly 250 guests, who “had a ball” at home or as guests in someone else’s home to share the evening. All of this was hosted by the generous Ballet Ball Committee, which consisted of Fady Armanious, Susan Binney, Kristy J. Bradshaw, Anne Chao, Jo Furr, Gillian Hobson, Jesse H. Jones II, Mark Loveland, Kelley Lubanko, Beth Muecke, Alicia Smith, Leigh Smith, Liliana Soltero, S. Shawn Stephens, Stephanie Tsuru, Phoebe Tudor, Christine Underwood, Hallie Vanderhider, Kelli Weinzierl, and Beth Zdeblick. Houston Methodist physicians receiving honors were Dr. Marc Boom, Dr. Victor Fainstein, Dr. Joshua Harris, Dr. Vijay Jotwani, and Dr. Kevin Varner.
Ballet Board President Leigh Smith says, “While our in-person performances are suspended due to the pandemic, it was of the utmost importance for us to be as fiscally responsible as possible, while also staying connected to our Houston Ballet family and ensuring the safety of all.”
Going virtual is always a tough decision but the Ballet Ball Committee was determined to still offer a fun-filled evening. Prior to the Ballet Ball program, each guest received dinner, drinks and a holographic, retro-inspired gift bag which included disco ball cups, a tie-dye kit, sequined face masks and more! The Program Book was uniquely made from an old vinyl and included a custom playlist for the evening. The Events Company brought the retro theme to life for top underwriters, some of whom hosted “Ballet Ball Watch Parties,” including disco ball and neon color table decorations. In life, the adage goes, “when doors close, windows open. This rang especially true for those meals that were already in preparation when the winter storm forced the Ballet to cancel. Those meals were donated to Second Servings of Houston to those in need. What a brilliant and wonderful thing to do!
The program kicked off with a “Saturday Night Fever”-inspired mashup by Houston Ballet Company Dancers outside the Wortham Theater Center. This original work for the Ballet Ball was choreographed by Ballet Master Barbara Bears and Company Dancers as they brought out their best retro moves down the red-carpet landing under a 5-foot-tall disco ball designed by The Events Company. Principal Connor Walsh, Board President Leigh Smith and Artistic Director Stanton Welch AM then took the screen welcoming viewers and speaking from the heart. The first Ballet Ball took place in the 70’s. Ballet Ball Committee members including Shawn Stephens, Hallie Vanderhider, Phoebe Tudor and Beth Zdeblick reminisced and re-lived moments as chairpersons for iconic Ballet Balls over the years. Richard Flowers highlighted a few of his most memorable events, including the 2002 Ballet Ball themed “Peter Pan” and offered words of hope that for next year “we’ll be back together in one venue, raising our glasses once again to Houston Ballet.”
Guests were encouraged to participate in the silent auction which featured sought-after items such as virtual wine tastings with brothers Connor Walsh and Chad Walsh, a ballet class with Principal Karina Gonzalez, and more!
Congratulations are in order for Houston Ballet. Throughout its 2020-2021 season, the organization successfully completed a $5-million campaign to help offset lost revenue due to the pandemic. At the end of the evening, the Ballet Ball raised nearly $850,000 in support of the Ballet’s dancers, staff, musicians and academy faculty.
Virtually present: Melza and Ted Barr, Anne and Albert Chao, Jo and Jim Furr, Mignon and Steve Gill, Gillian Hobson, Deborah and Edward Koehler, Chad Libertus, Elizabeth Leykum, Letty Loya, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, Martha and Marvin McMurrey, Beth Muecke, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Laura and Brannon Robertson, Akemi and Yasuhiko Saitoh, Alicia and Lance Smith, Leigh and Reggie Smith, S. Shawn Stephens and James M. Jordan, Elizabeth Schwarze, Allison and Troy Thacker, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Christine and David M. Underwood, Jr., Jerry Ann Woodfin-Costa and Victor Costa, Margaret Alkek Williams, Hallie Vanderhider, Beth and Nick Zdeblick.