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.


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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.

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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.

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Dell Children’s Medical Center Announces $30 Million Matching Grant By Michael And Susan Dell

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Ben Porter

THE SETTING: The Fairmont Hotel in Austin was the setting recently for the annual Dell Children’s Medical Center gala. This year’s theme, Share Your Joy, more than lived up to the name. Nearly 1,000 of the Capital City’s most notable philanthropists, sociables, and community influencers joined together for an unforgettable evening of fun, fundraising, and the announcement of a substantial gift by two of Texas’ most influential philanthropists.

 THE STYLE: The black tie attired crowd began the evening as guests posed for pictures against a gorgeously colorful backdrop to commemorate the evening. Once inside, partygoers headed to the V.I.P. lounge for a cocktail reception where patrons sipped spirits and brimmed with anticipation for the festivities ahead. The action then headed to the main ballroom for the evening’s program.

 Guests were treated to a heartwarming video regarding the impact of Dell Children’s Medical Center on the community, as they dined on a delicious multi-course meal. Other highlights included emotional words from families whose children’s lives were saved due to the efforts of the organization, as well as a spirited live auction and fund-a-need. The highlight of the evening was the announcement by Michael and Susan Dell of a matching grant of $30 million for the HERE Campaign for the advancement of pediatric care at Dell Children’s. The guests, now on a joyous high over the Dell’s generosity, kept the festivities going into the wee hours of the next morning at the V.I.P. after party as they danced the night away to the tunes of DJ’s Amy Edwards and Society Texas’ own Lance Avery Morgan.

 THE PURPOSE: The event was led by a committee known as 20 for 20, symbolizing the number of philanthropic couples who have shaped the first decade of Dell Children’s Medical Center. In addition to the $30 million match by Michael and Susan Dell, the event raised a record-breaking $2.1 million for Dell Children’s Medical Center. Proceeds from the event will go towards construction of the new Dell Children’s Specialty Pavilion. The new outpatient facility, scheduled to open in 2021, will expand specialty care for children.

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Clayton Dabney For Kids With Cancer Luncheon Is Medicine Of The Heart

By Leanne Raesener          Photography by Tamytha Cameron and Celeste Smith

THE SETTING:  The Dallas Country Club was the recent setting for the Clayton Dabney for Kids with Cancer’s fifth annual Love Luncheon with more than 400 of Texas’ most notable sociables and philanthropists in attendance. The event kicked off with a market-style shopping experience where guests enjoyed love-inspired cocktails. Exclusive local vendors were featured, and MiniLuxe was on hand to provide quick-dry polish changes. Guests had the opportunity to enter a raffle featuring exclusive travel packages, including a staycation at The Joule, a three-night stay at The Four Seasons Punta Mita, and two-night stays at both Sea Island and The Four Seasons Vail.



THE STYLE:  Following the shopping extravaganza, guests were invited into the ballroom where Janie Bell of Highland Park Presbyterian gave the invocation. A delectable lunch was served featuring tomato bisque and grilled chicken salad, during which Christina Kate and Shelby Dabney took the stage. Christina addressed the crowd with a heartwarming tribute to her brother, Clayton, who lost his battle with cancer in 1995 when he was just six years old.


NBC-5 Anchor Meredith Land moderated the keynote presentation which featured Global Healthcorps (GHC) co-founding CEO, Barbara Pierce Bush. GHC is an organization that mobilizes a global community of young leaders to build the movement for health equity. She discussed her family’s experiences in the White House, her current endeavors pursuing her Master’s degree at Harvard, and the work she is doing regarding global health. She brought her mother, Former First Lady Laura Bush, as her guest.


THE PURPOSE: Brittany Hunt and Chelsea Hunt chaired the luncheon, and Ann and John Delautour served as honorary co-chairs. Leslie Ficke is the executive director of Clayton Dabney for Kids with Cancer. The luncheon benefitted the “Medicine of the Heart” outreach program, which supports the agency’s mission to provide families in need who have children in the last stages of terminal cancer. It has offered everlasting memories in last wishes, gifts, special events, family travel, and financial assistance to over 4,400 families. They have distributed more than $8 million to terminally ill children and their families across the United States.

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