Society

Stars Rule the Night as Houston Ballet’s Stanton Welch Is Celebrated For Two Decades of Leadership in Lavish Stage Dinner

Breaking Out the Red Shoes — and the Showy Late Night Fun

BY // 09.12.23
photography Wilson Parish

Exhibiting much of the cerebral energy elicited from Houston Ballet’s season premiere of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a stylish clutch of 220, a sellout, assembled on stage at Wortham Theater Center for a late night supper under the stars. That would be the stars that glittered above choreographer John Neumeier‘s production not to mention the stars aligning on stage for the annual opening night fundraiser.

Kristy Bradshaw, Melody Mennite, Carolyn Sabat on stage at Wortham Theater Center for Houston Ballet's Opening Night Dinner. (Photo by Wilson Parish)
Kristy Bradshaw, Melody Mennite, Carolyn Sabat on stage at Wortham Theater Center for Houston Ballet’s Opening Night Dinner. (Photo by Wilson Parish)

Neumeier, Hamburg Ballet artistic director, was in the audience for the performance, on stage for the standing ovations and seated on stage for the Jackson & Company dinner. Julie Kent, Houston Ballet newly appointed artistic director, made her company debut on this evening while it was the start of the final season for the company’s music director Ermanno Floria, who concludes 32 years in his post at the end of the season.

The true star of the evening, beyond the dancers, though was Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch.  A Member of the Order of Australia (AM), Welch was honored in celebration of his two decades of leading the company. For the occasion, Welch donned a flower in his suit lapel and glittery red evening shoes, not too far removed from Dorothy’s ruby red slippers.

“When I feel like I have to stand out and I feel a little shy, I put on my red shoes and I feel braver,” Welch tells PaperCity. “It gives me confidence. You can’t hide in your red shoes.”

Shannon Sasser, Elise Joseph, Jenny Elkins on stage at Wortham Theater Center for Houston Ballet's Opening Night Dinner. (Photo by Wilson Parish)
Shannon Sasser, Elise Joseph, Jenny Elkins on stage at Wortham Theater Center for Houston Ballet’s Opening Night Dinner. (Photo by Wilson Parish)

In his honor, the City of Houston provided an official proclamation saluting Stanton Welch, presented in pre-dinner ceremonies on stage by Houston Ballet trustee and vice president of development Jay Jones and by Julie Kent.

Houston Ballet executive director Jim Nelson headed the brief program for which he introduced chairs Elise and Russell Joseph and Jennifer and Christopher Laporte and congratulated them on record proceeds of more than $250,000.

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