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Houston Ballet Brings Black-Tie Partying and Spectacular Dance Home — With Backyard Wonderlands and More

$850,000 Raised and Entertainment Galore

BY // 03.08.21

The splendid creativity of Houston Ballet shown at its brightest Friday night when artists and patrons combined their talents to create a spectacular evening revolving around virtual dance presentations and grand, black-tie watch parties held in private residences. The “Houston Ballet Ball Home Edition: Having a Ball” was by all accounts a resounding success. COVID-19, which eliminated the annual in-person Wortham Center soirée, was clearly no match for Houston Ballet.

Across the city, 250 ballet patrons tuned in for the 45 minute program which began with the company setting the lively tone of the evening with a routine choreographed to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin Alive.” Ballet Master Barbara Bears and company dancers created the Saturday Night Fever-inspired piece that was filmed around Wortham Theater Center.

Applause, applause for the dance portions of the program that included the premiere of Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch‘s In Good Company, which was filmed during the pandemic, and First Soloist Oliver Halkowich‘s Following which premiered in 2018.

The virtual program never lost its entertainment value whether it was the charming Connor Walsh‘s introduction or The Events Company’s Richard Flowers recalling the innumerable balls for which he has created the decor, past ball chairs reminiscing about their galas, brief comments from board leadership or recognition of honorees, Houston Methodist physicians for the role they play in keeping the dancers healthy.

And then there was the surprise finale starring Houston Ballet executive director Jim Nelson and Welch. Bravo!

Fady Armanious and Hallie Vanderhider at her River Oaks home where she hosted a black-tie watch party for the Houston Ballet virtual ball. (Photo by Wilson Parish)

If there were a prize for best formal watch party, it would go to Hallie Vanderhider, 2018 Ballet Ball chair, who tapped Flowers and The Events Company to recreate the Swan Lake theme of her ball in a tented wonderland in the backyard of her River Oaks home. In true Best Dressed tradition, Vanderhider wore the Naeem Khan couture gown with 3,500 hand-sewn, black coque feathers (rooster tails) flowing with a mammoth train that she had worn as ball chair. As the evening at home progressed, Vanderhider changed into another feathered frock, one more suitable for sitting at dinner. There were 30 guests, all vaccinated against the pandemic.

In addition to dinner (City Kitchen and Jackson & Company) and wines, participants were presented with holographic, retro-inspired gift bags which included disco ball cups, a tie dye kit, sequin face masks and more.

The gala at-home evening brought in $850,000 in support of the Ballet’s dancers, staff, musicians and academy faculty. Throughout the 2020-2021 season, the company successfully completed a $5 million campaign to help offset revenue lost due to the pandemic.

PC Seen: Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Leticia Loya, Beth and Nick Zdeblick, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Beth Muecke, Jo and Jim Furr, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, Melza and Ted Barr, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Akemi and Yasuhiko Saitoh, Alicia and Lance Smith, Laura and Brannon Robertson, and Mignon and Stephen Gill.

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