If there was any ever doubt, the Houston Ballet can really execute a production—both on- and off-stage, as evidenced by last month's 2018 Houston Ballet Ball: Swan Lake.
Despite being forced out of its Wortham Theater Center home after Harvey, the Ballet saw its biggest ball yet on Saturday, February 17, when nearly 500 guests dazzled in this year's venue, the Houston Ballet Center for Dance. There, Richard Flowers and The Events Company created a custom immersive experience in keeping with the ball's theme: Swan Lake, under the artistic direction of Stanton Welch AM.
The annual event honored United Airlines for the company's 15-year support of the Ballet. All told, the ball raised more than $1.4 million for Houston Ballet—a banner year.
At the venue, Houston Ballet Academy students floated through the space as white swans (plus one black swan) and henchmen, and guests dressed to impress. Perhaps most stunning, though, was the custom Naeem Khan Couture gown on Hallie Vanderhider, chair of this year's ball. Nearly 3,500 natural coque feathers formed the skirt and its flowing train, and a sequined mesh overlay paired with a classic sweetheart neckline. After dinner, Vanderhider changed into a fuschia Monique Lhuillier gown to hit the dance floor.
The venue space, which took a week to build out, further enlivened the black-and-white theme with a tented ballroom, linen-draped cocktail area, flying swans over a custom pond, and a dining room split by a mirrored runway beneath five crystal chandeliers. All white floors, table linens, and centerpieces on one side stood in stark, glamorous contrast to all black on the other.
A black-and-white inspired menu by City Kitchen included jumbo lump crab meat with white asparagus and Belgian endive, charred lemon coulis and shaved black truffles, prime aged beef tenderloin with savory leek-wrapped bread pudding and oven roasted salsify, grilled sea bass with beluga lentils and wilted baby kale, and, for dessert, "black and white deconstructed"—chocolate genoise with bittersweet chocolate ganache, white cake crumbles, ile fottante, and dark chocolate truffles coated in white chocolate and topped with chocolate mousse.
Guests bid on silent auction items including a two-week stay for five at Villa Da Motta in Veddo di Maccagno, Italy; a VIP New York Fashion Week package with tickets to Spring 2019 shows for Oscar de la Renta, Naeem Khan, Carolina Herrera, and Pamella Roland; nearly 20 pieces from Tenenbaum Jewelers including an 18k yellow gold diamond bangle and Cartier "Santos 100" watch; and a private lunch for 22 with Lynn Wyatt at La Griglia.
The night concluded with—what else—dancing, albeit on a mirrored dance floor, to music by Party on the Moon.