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.

 

ONE GIANT LEAP

ONE GIANT LEAP

Supporters Of Ballet San Antonio Raise Funds At Luncheon

 

By Jake Gaines Photography by Rance Ristau

 

THE SETTING:  On a recent afternoon, Ballet San Antonio hosted a fundraising luncheon at the Carlos Alvarez Theater at The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Announced was a new partnership with Haven For Hope, a nonprofit that provides free dance classes for the children of Haven residents. Energetic and longtime supporters of Ballet San Antonio, as well as newcomers to the organization filled the room. The Ballet welcomed Daniel Jones, editor of the Modern Love column for the New York Times as the featured guest. Other speakers included Carla Brozovich, a longtime supporter of the Ballet, Sonya Medina Williams, a new supporter of the ballet and long supporter of Haven For Hope, Ballet San Antonio C.E.O. Evin Eubanks, and Karen Lee Zachry.

 

THE SCENE:  Haven For Hope has a current population of 120 individuals and families, which includes 300 children experiencing homelessness who will be eligible for the Learning That Moves You program beginning in September. The classes will take place on the Haven For Hope campus. Through the establishment of this new program at Haven for Hope, children staying at the center will have access to free lessons in creative movement in a safe space. There they will be able to express themselves and, in doing so, cope and heal from the trauma of homelessness. 

 

THE PURPOSE:  Ballet San Antonio C.E.O Evin Eubanks said the idea for the program originated with Carla Brozovich and Sonya Medina Williams, both enthusiastic supporters of the dance company and co-chairs of the winter luncheon. NuStar Energy and The Greehey Family Foundation have generously underwritten the Haven For Hope program. Ballet San Antonio is the only, and premiere, professional ballet company in San Antonio and resides at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

 

SETTING THE TONE

SETTING THE TONE

Every host knows that the secret to a successful event is strategically fusing the energy of the guests. If it is a seated affair, it’s even more important that the mix around the table is fun, festive and even, educational, according to our entertaining expert, Jay Remer.

 

PARTY TIME

Enjoying the camaraderie of one’s friends and family around a dinner table is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Dinner parties serve many purposes, and their success hinges on the guests as much as anything. Once the cocktail hour has concluded, where people sit for dinner depends on the occasion. However, when the question arises, Where shall I sit? it is the host, through his or her seating acumen, who can make or break the brilliance of the party. 

At a private home, club, or restaurant, the host can solve this seating puzzle ahead of time. After all, they’ve invited the guests and know best how they will interact. Planning where people will sit requires skill, which, if not learned during cotillion days, will come with experience. Place cards are always helpful. For a large dinner where multiple tables will be used, a dining chart placed strategically near the entrance to the dining room will allow guests to find their seats more efficiently. I find this useful as it also gives them a glimpse into whom their dinner partners will be. Once I know who I am sitting beside, I can focus on chatting with others during cocktails because there will be plenty of time to converse with my tablemates when seated.

Begin with the principle of alternating sexes around the table (woman/man/woman/man) when possible. With a single table, the host and co-host are seated opposite one another at the ends of the table. If there are unequal numbers of each sex, seating two of the same sex together is unavoidable and perfectly acceptable.  

When more than one table is used, be sure there is a ‘host’ for each table whenever possible. This role includes the host, co-host, guests of honor, and family members. Avoid seating alpha personalities at the same table. In fact, I avoid inviting too many of these socially assertive guests to any party as they have a tendency to dominate events they attend, which can upend the most carefully planned party.

MATCHING MATES

Husbands and wives may be seated at different tables, including formal dinners, but try to avoid seating them together unless one of them is painfully shy or there is some extenuating circumstance. After all, they see one another regularly, and interacting with other guests is the purpose of having a fun party. Conventionally, couples who are dating usually are seated beside one another, although, for me, this is a flexible guideline. If there is a male guest of honor, he would be seated to the right of the hostess; a female guest of honor would be seated to the right of the host.

Given modern partnerships, common sense trumps conventional norms. The overriding principles of proper etiquette are flexible enough to accommodate all guests with egalitarian grace. If a host decides they would like a a different mix other than what tradition dictates, they should follow their heart and act accordingly. This perspective removes all sorts of conventions and allows for the originality that so many party planners crave today.

However, do be thoughtful about your seating plan. It’s common sense not seating people together whom you know have a poor history with one another, have little or nothing in common, who are overly shy or overly talkative. Try to seat people next to those whom they would most enjoy–with interesting backgrounds, professional pursuits, or a unique hobby.

To accomplish this task efficiently, write the name of each guest on a small card. Divide the ‘deck’ into male and female decks. Some people may be more interested in politics, others in sports, others in gardening, etc. Think of this gathering as an opportunity for people with common interests to engage in elusive and lively conversations.

WHAT A CARD

After you have the seating chart sorted, write the names on place cards and band them together by table for placing once the table(s) have been set. Once you have placed the cards, the plan is written in stone. Any guest who thinks they can change their seat assignment is sadly mistaken. Some may quite justifiably consider this to be an egregiously poor lapse in judgment and possibly a short cut to elimination from future invitations.

When hosting a dinner party at a restaurant, be sure to arrive at least twenty minutes ahead of the invited start time. Some people may mistakenly arrive early, so either wait for them at the entrance bar (and have a drink) or go directly to the table and wait for your guests. Do not order a drink at the table until guests are seated. And do not touch your napkin. Your guests should arrive at a pristine table. Always try to give your guests the best view, either one facing into the room or out a window over a stunning vista, not facing the kitchen’s swinging door or viewing the restrooms. Know ahead of time exactly where each guest will sit, and as they arrive, simply let them know. For tables of more than six, I recommend place cards. Following these guidelines will ensure things run smoothly and will reflect well on you as a great host for your next gathering and many more to come.

 

 

 

 

 

A RINGSIDE SEAT

A RINGSIDE SEAT

Texas Biomedical Forum Hosts Chair-ity Event

 

By Jake Gaines            Photography by Super Q

 

THE SETTING:  Recently, the Texas Biomedical Forum held a unique fundraising event at the home of Gloria and Miguel Dilley. Usually, the black-tie gala celebrating the organization is one of the most important social events in the city. This smaller event, which began in 2017, occurred when The Argyle board decided to donate its chairs to the Forum, giving donors a chance to have a piece of the club’s history. The club was originally founded in 1854 and its incarnation as a private club began in 1955.

 

THE STYLE:  The Argyle contacted the gala’s president at the time, Courtney Percy, who created the idea of getting local interior decorators to put their creative spin on the chairs. The Argyle contacted the Forum’s president at the time, Courtney Percy, who created the idea of getting local interior decorators to put their creative spin on the chairs. Adrianne Frost and Mal Moorman, the 2017 special event chairs, took Percy’s idea and ran with it.

 

The organization is grateful to The Argyle for donating the chairs to the Forum. With Courtney Percy’s vision, the special events chair leaders’ achievements each year, and with the designers who have donated their time and talents, it has proved to be a perfect combination, thus ensuring its success at every event. The recent event was celebrated by so many well-dressed supporters who love the organization’s goals.

 

THE PURPOSE:  With this one-of-a-kind fundraiser, this year was the final event chaired by Gloria Dilley and Triana Grossman. The event has successfully raised over $50,000 in its three years. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute is pioneering and sharing scientific breakthroughs that protect you, your families, and our global community from the threat of infectious diseases.

 

AS YOU WISH

AS YOU WISH

Rebecca’s Wish Gala Held At Witte Museum

 

By Jake Gaines        Photography by LNP Photography

THE SETTING:  On a gorgeous night, a lively crowd of attendees gathered to support Rebecca’s Wish. The non profit was founded in 2018 and named for Rebecca Taylor, after her 10-year struggle with chronic pancreatitis and related complications. The gala, which occurred at the Witte Museum, featured keynote speakers, who included Dr. Sandeep Patel and Max Lucado, as well as Taylor herself, shared information about the organization and its goals.

THE STYLE:  A Mariachi band from the city’s Los Dragones Mariachi Southwest High School welcomed the guests. They also experienced a culinary experience provided by the RK Group, which included parmesan-crusted chicken and a creamy chocolate pot de crème with shaved chocolate for dessert. Then, a spirited live auction followed to garner funds for this worthy cause. Singer Elizabeth Latham moved the audience as she gave a poignant performance that spoke to finding a cure for a disease that afflicts more than one hundred thousand children annually. Afterward, as the party continued, The Klocks band performed to the delight of the guests as they danced the night away.

THE PURPOSE: Tracee Feik was the gala chair of the event, while Dina Selva and Jodie Harding served as the auction co-chairs. Christyn Taylor is the president of Rebecca’s Wish. The mission of the organization is to improve pediatric pancreatic research, education, and patient support, as well as find a cure for the disease.

PLAYING THE FIELD

PLAYING THE FIELD

South Texas Charity Weekend Hosts 27th Annual Gathering

 

By Caroline McAllister        Photography by Marks Moore and Doug Smith

 

THE SETTING:  The wide open spaces of the King Ranch, the historic town of Kingsville, and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center were the backdrop for the 27th annual South Texas Charity Weekend. Guests came from around Texas and the country to enjoy a weekend with friends and to honor the 2020 South Texan of the Year, Red Steagall. 

 

THE STYLE:  The weekend’s festivities began with a cocktail reception Friday night, hosted by Tio and Janell Kleberg in their beautiful home on the King Ranch, welcoming new and old friends alike to South Texas. The next morning, guests chose between quail hunting on the legendary King Ranch or a shooting clinic with instruction from world-class instructors Charlie Wilson, Bill Massey, and Raye Massey. Lunch was served cowboy style in the field, a tradition the King Ranch is well known for around the world. HALO-Flight was onsite, giving guests a rare bird’s eye view from their Bell 407 helicopter.The pinnacle of the weekend was Saturday evening as guests gathered to celebrate Red Steagall as the 2020 South Texan of the Year. 

Tio Kleberg has earned a reputation for providing a memorable introduction, and this year was no exception. Kleberg entered the room dressed as a 1960’s western singer and went on to deliver a powerful introduction for Steagall, known as The Official Cowboy Poet of Texas. Following a touching acceptance from Red Steagall, he treated the crowd to the story behind his hit song Here We Go Again and then sang Hats Off To The Cowboy. As the crowd cheered, he then announced that he would donate the guitar he had just used to benefit the live auction. Needless to say, this created a tremendous boost of energy and the robust live auction that followed was one of the most successful yet.  On Sunday morning, guests gathered for a farewell cowboy breakfast at the King Ranch.

 

THE PURPOSE: Wildlife conservation, ranching heritage, and health care are the beneficiaries of the generous donations and underwriting from the weekend, which raised over a million dollars. The charities supported are the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Kleberg, and HALO-Flight.