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Austrian Royal Glamour and Madness Are Coming to Houston For a Ballet Ball Like No Other — a River Oaks Tease

Chairs Revealed for Unique White-Tail Event

BY // 11.06.23

The night was perfect for an alfresco salute to the 2024 Houston Ballet Ball as co-chairs Cabrina and Steven Owsley opened their River Oaks home with gala co-chairs Margaret and Jonathan Cox for a special announcement. The ladies revealed that the February 17 soirée will be white-tie, a nod to the elegance of Mayerling, the ballet set to be performed by the company at that time.

Kenneth MacMillian’s three-act ballet is built around the tragic story of Austrian Prince Rudolf of the royal Hapsburgs, royalty which, of course, inspires the most ebullient of dressing. That would mean white-tie and medals for the gents. Ladies go grand.

Ballet Ball Kick Off Party 2023
Jacqueline Long, Allison Thacker at the Houston Ballet Ball kick-off soirée. (Photo by Ashley Patranella)

The ball will honor ballet patrons Akemi and Yasuhiko Saitoh, president and CEO of Shintech Inc., whose close relationship with the company was solidified following the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011 when Houston Ballet’s now soloist Ryo Kato created a gala in support of the victims.

“They have been very involved with the company ever since,” Houston Ballet executive director JimNelson tells PaperCity.”It’s a relationship that has built over time.”

Nelson adds that Houston Ballet has the most Japanese dancers of any ballet in the country from soloists down to corps and a large number of Japanese students in the academy. Houston Ballet just returned from four performances in Tokyo and has been invited back for additional performances in 2025.

Of Mayerling, Nelson notes: “It’s one of our full length ballets and we are the only American company to have the work . . . It’s the story of Prince Rudolph spiraling into madness. It’s not a happy ballet. It’s not a pleasant ballet.

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“It’s real. It’s serious. It’s womanizing. It’s drug abuse. It’s an adult ballet. But it’s a brilliant challenge for the company in their acting and their dancing.”

Ballet Ball Kick Off Party 2023
Bill Baldwin, Anne Chao, Fady Armanious at the Houston Ballet Ball kick-off soirée. (Photo by Ashley Patranella)

With champagne flowing, Japanese inspired hors d’oeuvres from City Kitchen served and the sounds of a string quartet from Detrick Arts, it was a glowing evening in celebration of the 2024 gala to come.

PC Seen: Houston Ballet artistic director Julie Kent, Melza and Ted Barr, Anne and Albert Chao, Jo Furr, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Jesse Jones II and Terry Wayne Jones,  Jean and Henry May, Allison Thacker, Susan and Gary Binney, Zoe Cadore, Kris and Rich McGee, Beth Muecke, Margaret Alkek Williams, Bill Stubbs, Daniel Irion and Kirk Kveton.

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