Ballet’s Jubilee was a night of wine and roses
Patrons linger after Houston Ballet’s annual Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance, always one of the most fun performances of the season, for delicious reasons — an onstage dinner with the dancers and artistic staff that this year reached a new high, raising $160,000.
Chairs Cabrina and Steven Owsley orchestrated a beautiful scene utilizing a heavenly backdrop from “The Nutcracker,” with gorgeous floral arrangements by Bergner and Johnson on the tables — a transformation that happened in mere minutes after the show.
But, oh, the blossoms that came during the show; the city’s florists must be wiped out. Big bouquets are a standard after premieres and opening shows, and principal dancer Melody Mennite received one after premiering “Oh, There You Are,” a contemporary work that makes her a choreographer to watch. Mennite also brought romantic warmth to a “Merry Widow” pas de deux with the equally versatile and soulful Ian Casady, who received a boatload of flowers for his 20 years with the company after partnering the earthy-wonderful Jessica Collado in a pas de deux from artistic director Stanton Welch’s “Sons de L’Áme.” And then came the tribute for long-time coach Claudio Muñoz, with a parade of fans bearing roses, following a heart-felt dance Welch created for the occasion.
Also among the show highlights: Collado, a star all night, and the virile Christopher Coomer gave audiences a peak at the devilish contemporary partnering in Welch’s new ballet “Just,” which premiered at the Jacob’s Pillow Festival in August, and the men whooped it up in the delightful “Kansas City” section of “Oklahoma!” that he recently choreographed for TUTS.
Among those enjoying the glow until midnight: executive director Jim Nelson; S. Shawn Stephens, Allison and Troy Thacker; Phoebe and Bobby Tudor; Melza and Ted Barr; music director Ermanno Florio and his wife, Franca Florio; Hallie Vanderhider; Beth Muecke; Jo and Jim Furr; Crystal and Randall Wright; Gary and Marian Beauchamp; Kelly and Steven Lubanko; Kris and Rickard McGee; Martha and Marvin McMurrey; Jesse H. Jones II; Tony Bradfield; Kevin Black; Christina Stith; Leigh Smith; Laura Robertson; Ann Trammell; Leticia Loya; Jerry Martin; Isla and Tommy Reckling; Diane Lokey Farb.