Event Date: February 4, 2023
Location: In a tent adjacent to Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance
Beneficiary: Houston Ballet
No. of Attendees: 500+
Money Raised: $1,500,000
Chairpersons: Allison and Troy Thacker
Honoree: Hallie Vanderhider
Event Décor: The Events Company
Entertainment: Gulf Coast Entertainment for Big Blast & The Party Masters and Julie Johnson
Photography: Wilson Parish and Daniel Ortiz
A “Puff” of Summer and Smoke Gave Houston Ballet Ball a $1.5 Million Night!
Summer and Smoke, a play by the legendary Tennessee Williams, inspired the upcoming Houston Ballet world premiere of the same name (generously underwritten by the gala’s honoree, Hallie Vanderhider) and lent its name to the recent 2023 Houston Ballet Ball. Chairpersons Allison and Troy Thacker and over 500 guests welcomed the return of Houston Ballet dancers (away due to the pandemic) to The Events Company’s state-of-the-art tent, constructed adjacent to the Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance.
Inspiration takes its cues from many things. For Richard Flowers and his team at The Events Company, the event’s theme guided them through decisions on colors, images and style. Their long-time painter and invitation designer Jeff Szymański, created the evening’s 80-foot-long murals down both sides of the 26-foot-high tent, showcasing Mississippi marshlands, its rippling river, tall trees graced with Spanish moss and magnolias, much of which set the stage for the remaining décor and cuisine.
Guests entered the ballroom through curtains framed with 60 feet of magnolia-blossomed garland. In the tented ballroom’s center, local singer Julie Johnson gave a live hour-long performance of Jazz and Bluegrass with a baby grand piano to accompany her vocals.
Creative décor highlights included a video runway down the center of the tent, which projected a metallic river graphic that resembled rippling, flowing water. At the other end of the runway, a mirrored front was placed onto the stage, giving it the appearance of reflected water. Table centerpieces showcased small blossoming Magnolia trees and fresh flowers. Some table centerpieces were decorated with green trees adorned with dangling orbs and 14-inch giant porcelain magnolias surrounded by fresh flowers. L-E-D trees with fresh greenery and Spanish moss were placed on both sides of the tent, making their way up to the tent’s apex.
The play’s name became caterer City Kitchen’s muse as they planned their menu with definite Southern hospitality, which included grilled beef tenderloin with a savory red wine sauce, succotash and pillowy buttermilk biscuits. As the final course, the bespoke dessert presented was chocolate fondant, sweet toffee, vanilla ice cream and shortbread.
The fun continued with partygoers and Houston Ballet dancers packing the dance floor to the tunes of Big Blast & The Party Masters. The new Winfield Chocolate Bar was not to be outdone, as guests took home a two-piece set of Champagne & Cheesecake Truffles on their way out. Multiple bows go out to Houston Ballet’s efforts, as their treasury was increased by $1.5 million at the end of this successful and beautiful Southern night!
Socially present (not previously mentioned): Stanton Welch AM, Jim Nelson, Stephanie Tsuru, Laura and Brannon Robertson, Lynn Wyatt, Margaret Alkek Williams, Richard Flowers, Anne and Albert Chao, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Brigitte Kalai, Alicia Smith, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Beth and Nick Zdeblick, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, S. Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, Christopher Venegas, Deborah and Edward Koehler, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Roslyn and Derrick Mitchell, Mignon and Stephen Gill, Heidi and Marcus Smith, Dr. Kevin Varner, Jay Jones and Terry Wayne Jones, Marc and Duyen Nguyen, Ileana Treviño, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Martha Finger, Beth Muecke, Jordan Seff, Kirk Kveton and Daniel Irion, Houston Ballet company dancers including Principals and First Soloists – Soo Youn Cho, Jessica Collado, Karina Gonzalez, Yuriko Kajiya, Melody Mennite, Chase O’Connell, Beckanne Sisk, Connor Walsh, Chandler Dalton, Tyler Donatelli, Monica Gomez and Harper Watters