GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

2020 Houston Ballet Ball Celebrates the 50th Anniversary

By Jennifer Roosth             Photography by Alida Bonifaz, Gary Fountain, Jacalyn Lawton, Wilson Parish, and Dave Rossman

THE SETTING:  For the first time since Hurricane Harvey, The Houston Ballet brought its annual event back to the Wortham Theater Center, its performance home, to celebrate an unforgettable golden 50th anniversary Ballet Ball. More than 400 guests clad in black tie made their way through Fish Plaza, with its shining runway covered in red carpet and lined with spotlights into the Wortham Theater. The room had been transformed into a glamourous golden palace, a nod to the 50th anniversary, by Richard Flowers of The Events Company. Tables covered in a mix of sparkling gold linens and mirrors lit the room. The look was elegantly completed by lush cream floors that paralleled crystal and custom gold chandeliers delicately suspended throughout the room.

THE STYLE:  Upon entering the theater, guests were greeted by Houston Ballet Academy dancers who donned gold costumes from classic Houston Ballet performances. The dinner, prepared by Jackson and Company, began with a golden caviar French macaron, black truffle and potato panna cotta followed by Lobster Bisque hand-poured by the servers–an elegant touch. The main course was a perfectly aged Angus beef tenderloin with haricots verts, rainbow baby carrots, polenta with caramelized shallots, and a gorgonzola tart.

For dessert, guests enjoyed Chocolat a la Margaret, a gold-painted chocolate sphere filled with chocolate mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, and glacé raspberries in honor of the tireless support of longtime patron Margaret Alkek Williams for her dedication, leadership, and commitment to the organization. As dessert was served, company dancers emerged from their seats and surrounding entrances surprising guests with a choreographed piece by Houston Ballet First Soloist, Oliver Halkowich. Guests were captivated by this moment and erupted in applause when Artistic Director Stanton Welch and Executive Director Jim Nelson joined the surprise performance. As the impromptu production came to an end, the dancers rolled out a commemorative nine-foot cake, adorned with 50th anniversary candles, onto the dance floor before the gold confetti grand finale.

THE PURPOSE:  Beth and Nick Zdeblick chaired the event this year, while Phoebe and Bobby Tudor served as honorary chairs. The annual event raised nearly $1.8 million for the Houston Ballet, making it the most successful Ballet Ball in its history, and this over-the-top golden anniversary event will not soon be forgotten.

 

THIS SIDE OF PARADISE

THIS SIDE OF PARADISE

Asia Society Tiger Ball Creates More Success

By Jennifer Roosth       Photography by Daniel Ortiz and Leah Wilson

THE SETTING:  Asia Society’s 2020 Tiger Ball, Celebrating the Elegance of Japan, honored Texas’ iconic and beloved champion of the arts, legendary philanthropist Lynn Wyatt. Welcoming 725 guests, it was more people than at any other event since the building opened in 2012. The Events Company created a Japanese-inspired spring paradise, transporting attendees to another world and season. A pink carpet lined with Japanese cherry blossom trees and special lighting served as a lovely pathway into the venue, which is itself an award-winning work of art, created by famed Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi.

THE STYLE:  The evening was indeed an exquisite celebration of the elegance of Japan. An entire truckload of Japanese cherry blossom branches decorated the Center and the Gala Pavilion, plus white Phalaenopsis orchids, roses, pink orchids, Vanda orchids, magnolia Japonica, fringed tulips, Asclepias, and a new breed of tulip known as the Leo spider tulip. Flowers were sourced from Thailand, Holland, and Oregon, and totaled approximately 10,000 blooms. Japanese taiko drummers led the way into the lavishly decorated 80’x181’ gala pavilion that transformed the Asia Society’s exterior space. Dozens of origami-inspired cranes and white rice paper and feather lanterns dotted the ceiling. Several oak trees outside the venue were adorned with cherry blossom branches to add to the Japanese springtime ambiance. A sumptuous Japanese-inspired menu, created by City Kitchen was served, featuring okonomiyaki pancakes with smoked duck, as well as tuna tartar, Wagyu beef tataki, spring rolls, edamame and jasmine rice cake, jumbo lump crab with melon, miso-glazed sea bass, and kabocha squash timbale. 

THE PURPOSE:  Kathy and Marty Goossen, and Akemi and Yasuhiko Saitoh co-chaired the event. Honorary chairs Kathy and Glen Yoshiaki Gondo, Wendy and Jeff Hines, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Brenda and Marc Watts, Donna Fujimoto Cole, and Shota Kondo were also recognized. A total of $1.34 million was raised in support of Asia Society’s programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach to enrich and engage the vast diversity of Houston.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

Stages In The Gordy Hosts Grand Opening Gala

By Jennifer Roosth          Photography by Priscilla Dickson and Wilson Parish

THE SETTING:  Having recently completed the new $35 million campus, Stages in The Gordy kicked off their opening weekend festivities by hosting the annual gala in their new home. More than 230 black tie attired guests eagerly made their way into The Gordy to enjoy the finished space. Still, in awe, guests sipped libations and perused the silent auction. Prior to dinner, guests gathered at the Sterling Stage for a special performance by three Broadway stars: Alysha Umphress, Joseph C. Wiggan, and Tony Yazbeck,  as the trio performed various numbers, including Don’t Rain on My Parade, All I Need is the Girl, and I Wish I Knew.

THE STYLE:  The décor, designed by Bergner & Johnson, was created to show off the focal point of the evening–the new building. Lanterns and a purple runway style carpet lined the walkway to the front lobby doors to greet the guests. White floral arrangements topped the tables throughout the space. The dinner, prepared by Jackson & Company, began with an amuse-bouche, which was a trio of deviled quail eggs followed by a seafood crepe with Mornay sauce. The main course was prime-aged Angus beef tenderloin with an old vine Zinfandel sauce served with potatoes fine herb gratinée, French baby carrots, asparagus, and yeast rolls. For dessert, guests enjoyed a spectacular twist on Baked Alaska, complete with a flaming presentation.

Following dinner, attendees could either dance the night away to the sounds of DJ Gracie Chavez on the Lester and Sue Smith Stage, which had been transformed into a disco. Or, they could enjoy the featured performances by Stages’ fan favorites Mark Ivy, Ben Miller, and Holland Vavra on the Rochelle and Max Levit Stage, which served as a piano bar.

THE PURPOSE:  This year’s event raised a record-breaking amount of more than $750,000 for Stages. Isla and T.R. Reckling, III, served as event chairs, along with the namesakes of the building, Glenda and Russell Gordy, who served as the underwriting chairs. Both couples were instrumental in making Stages’ vision for The Gordy come to life. The silent auction was led by the auction chairs, Trish and Rock Morille.

TO THE MOON

TO THE MOON

Museum of Fine Arts Houston Celebrates Art of the Islamic Worlds Gala 

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Priscilla Dickson and Wilson Parish

THE SETTING: Over 375 guests arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for the biennial Art of the Islamic Worlds gala held in Cullinan Hall. The Events Company elegantly set the tables with navy shantung silk linens, acrylic ghost chairs, and delicate, white floral arrangements artfully comprised of orchids, calla lilies, and hydrangeas.. Complementing this year’s theme of Under One Moon, projections of the night sky with a prominent moon, which continually transformed from full to crescent throughout the evening, were also displayed on the walls surrounding the seated dinner.
THE STYLE: After MFAH Director, Gary Tinterow, made the welcoming remarks, City Kitchen served a delectable three-course seated dinner. For dessert, guests enjoyed a trio of a rose-petal rice pudding shooter, an apricot bar with black cherry, anise, and candied ginger compote, and a bittersweet chocolate and soft cardamom truffle with pistachio crumble, cinnamon-scented mascarpone, and an espresso cookie. Entertainment during dinner was provided by a special performance by Ziya Azazi: Dervish in Progress. Following dinner, guests danced the night away to the sounds of DJ Senega.
THE PURPOSE: This year’s gala raised a total of $945.000 through ticket sales and donations. Members of the Executive Gala Committee served as hosts of the black-tie event, including Rania Daniel, Zeina Fares, Vahid Kooros, Sima Ladjevardian, Sultana Mangalji, Franci Neely, Cenk Ozdogan, Sabiha Rehmatulla, Aliyya Stude, and Monsour Taghdisi, along with underwriters The Honorable and Mrs. Hushang Ansary, Jaleh and Bruce Sallee, Rania and Jamal Daniel, and Mona and Andrew Sarofim.

 

BELLO ITALIANO

BELLO ITALIANO

Festari’s Una Notte Event Hosts Annual Event Supporting Houston Area Women’s Center

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Daniel Ortiz and Quy Tran

THE SETTING: When over 600 guests attended the annual Una Notte in Italia, A Night in Italy, “celebrity” men’s fashion show and gala where philanthropic men and local athletes walk the runway on behalf of the charity, they knew they were in for a treat. The foyer and ballroom at the Omni Houston Hotel were draped in all things Italian, including elaborate topiaries, vines, candelabras, and a stunning backdrop on the runway with a handsome, contemporary image of Michelangelo’s David. Vibrant red roses and seasonal greenery provided beautiful framed photo ops as guests entered the gala before the big night.

THE STYLE: The fun-filled fête began with a lively cocktail hour that was complete with silent auction and premier bar along with specialty tequilas provided by Riazul. Once guests were seated in the ballroom, the handsome gents took to the catwalk in fabulous fashions provided by Rudy Festari of Festari for Men. The stellar line-up included Drs. Kota Reddy and Matthew Harbison, attorneys James Lassiter and Kent Schaffer, restauranteur Ben Berg, jewelers Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, businessmen Rick Perez, Danny Brown, Nick Merchant, Bill Baldwin, and Pablo Delgado, to name a few.

The finale featured Houston Texans players Cullen Gillaspia, DJ Reader, and Justin Reid and Astros pitcher Lance McCullers and Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, as confetti and roses were thrown from the cheering crowd. Guests then enjoyed a multi-course Italian meal complete with Italian wines, of course, as the live auction began. To close the evening’s activities, guests made their way to the newly renovated Black Swan club within the hotel to dance the night away.

THE PURPOSE: The evening was emceed by television anchor Dominique Sachse, and was co-chaired by Rachel Bagwell and Sneha Merchant, with Debbie Festari serving as honorary chair. This year’s event raised close to $400,000 on behalf of Houston Area Women’s Center, an agency that provides hope and healing from the effects of domestic and sexual violence.

 

THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Hosts 2020 Winter Ball

By Jennifer Roosth Photography Daniel Ortiz and Jacob Power

THE SETTING: Over 550 guests gathered at the Hilton Americas for the 33rd anniversary of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation 2020 Winter Ball, themed Warm Friends on a Winter Night. Glorious gowns took center stage as 11 Houston-area women were honored for their volunteerism in the Houston community.

THE STYLE: The cocktail hour, the dinner, and the live and silent auctions all contributed to the success of the evening. For 33 years, the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation and ABC13 have celebrated remarkable women in Houston. This event’s theme and honorees were chosen as representatives of friendship and the caring spirit of Houston toward its many philanthropic organizations. This year’s Women of Distinction honorees were Cheryl Byington, Zane Carruth, Theresa Chang, Elsie Eckert, Myrtle Jones, Brigitte Kalai, Kelley Lubanko, Joy McCormack, Hannah McNair, Mary Tere Perusquia and Betty Hrncir, the 2020 Ambassador. The evening was led by emcee Tom Koch of ABC13, and produced by Ellie Francisco and Niki Smith.

THE PURPOSE: Lesha Elsenbrook and Bobbie Nau chaired the Winter Ball, both former Women of Distinction, and Sidney Faust and Cora Sue Mac, served as Honorary Chairs, also past Women of Distinction and Ambassadors. The event raised over $800,000. Honored Heroes Marni Goldman, Blake Hicks, Faith Stuchly, and Ambassador Caitlin Rowley, shared their stories and journeys with Crohn’s disease, demonstrating the importance of the funds raised at the event. The night’s major sponsors included Sewell Automotive Companies, Tootsies, H-E-B, BB&T/SunTrust (now Truist), Gittings, and Tenenbaum Jewelers.