One might have thought that The Dallas Theater Center had moved across the street to the Meyerson when the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Presentation Ball took place there on Saturday, February 17. But, more about that later.
Before the evening of bowing and dancing got underway for the 1,060 guests, hints of a formal pep rally were simmering. Meyerson ushers found themselves separating the fledgling set from the vintage-type guests. Young adults were directed to elevators taking them to the lower level for their tickets and wristbands for the pre-presentation reception, while the grownup folks were pointed toward the marble stairway leading to the reception.
Slowing the movement of the crowd headed to the elevators was the flock of swan-like debs who waylaid their pals on the way to the lifts, like deb Annabel McGill, who was surrounded by her University of Missouri pals… And, of course, there were all the last-minute preparations, with Diana Burns checking deb daughter Helena Burns’ gown, and deb dad Brad Burns providing a helping hand for Helena’s elbow-length gloves.
The debs weren’t the only ones of fashionable note, though. Local designers were well-represented. Honorary Co-Chair/Honor Guard mom Lisa Troutt was in a delicious pink gown with white bodice overlay by Michael Faircloth, while hubby Kenny Troutt was in a J. Hilburn tux… Nancy Labadie was blending gray with silvery three-quarter bell sleeves, thanks to designer Patti Flowers. Unfortunately, Nancy’s plans had a hiccup. At the last minute, the earrings that matched her necklace broke, so she pulled in a pair of silver clips for a last-minute replacement… Melissa Lewis in a Nha Khanh admitted that it was an accident that her pink and white gown with swirls of gray and black blended perfectly with the evening’s color theme.
Whether it was the pre-bow jitters, or just the excitement that the months of planning were coming to an end, the young ladies in white ball gowns could barely contain themselves, even for the formal group photos on the stairway by James French, who as always was perched high atop a ladder. There were the all-deb photos, the debs with DSOL President Mari Epperson and Presentation Chair Lori Routh photos, and finally the debs with escorts photos.
But then the chimes were heard throughout the building, and guests scurried toward the Hall. Only problem was, one side of the check-in there seemed to bog down, requiring backup ushers to be called in to help guests figure out where their seats were located. Meantime, the other side of the Hall seemed to be guest-less. Perhaps it was due to the fact that attendees had to find a place to stash their beverages, since drinks weren’t allowed in the Hall.
Once the guests took their seats and the lights were dimmed, new Dallas Symphony Association President Kim Noltemy, the Presentation committee officers (Rene Edwards, Melissa Lewis, Kay Weeks, Eleanor Bond, Nancy Labadie and Kim Brannon), the Dallas Symphony Assembly Officers, and the Honor Guard Officers (Houston Waring, Alexander Pearson, Diego Garcia, Duncan McFarlane, Andrew Hall, Shy Anderson Jr., Brian Clinkscales, Spencer Hardin and Charles Wysocki) were recognized. However, there were a couple of itty-bitty oops.
When the spotlight lit up the box on the second tier in order to highlight Honorary Co-Chairs Lisa and Kenny Troutt, for example, the Troutts’ box was left in the dark, while a woman who was in the spotlight used her program either to shield her eyes from the glaring beam or to hide her face in embarrassment.
In introducing the Dallas Assembly Officers on stage, Master Of Ceremonies Stan Gardner read off only 11 names (Elizabeth Metzger, Madison Hassell, Catherine Hitzelberger, Fallon Bock, Hayley Waring, Olivia Lewis, Elizabeth Allums, Marielle LeMaster, Brookie Hewes, Miriam Griffin and Caroline Downing) despite there being 12 women on stage. The MIA name belonged to Ashton Gillespie.
Before starting the presentation of the debs, Stan recalled that the age-old tradition of debutante presentation was one in which “young women prepared for adulthood,” and the guests were “fortunate to be included for this special moment tonight.” He gently reminded the audience that “in consideration of each debutante and the formality of this evening, please express your appreciation with polite applause following each debutante’s bow.”
Despite Stan’s request, a large contingent of the younger guests didn’t get the message. In the Hall that has had legendary musicians create masterpiece performances, the acoustics resounded the attendees’ whoops and hollers like they were at a truck/tractor pull from the moment the 33 debs (Caroline Allday, Meika Bass, Caroline Beutel, Natalie Blazejewski, Kennedy Boscamp, Alexis Bray, Helena Burns, Megan Casey, Catherine Champlin, Arden Cheatham, Bronwyn Cordiak, Eliza Davis, Claire Fletcher, Grace Gunnin, Hope Hyde, Emma Jenevein, Olivia Jennings, Anna Jordanou, Riley King, Katie Kupp, Catherine Leffert, Lane McCormick, Annabel McGill, Megan Meinecke, Kay Merritt, Caroline Morway, Theiline Pigott, Jacqueline Reagor, Avery Roossien, Madison Stuart, Julianna Szuwalski, Madeline Toole and Morgan Weaver) appeared at the top of the stairway and as they were escorted by their fathers to the center stage. After a peck on the cheek, the fathers stepped aside and the debs performed the infamous “Texas dip” bow. Just as her well-coifed, tiara-less head neared the floor, each deb would look to her left. Doing so, she not only avoided lipsticking her gown, but she reached out to her escort, who offered his hand and to help her rise. With just a slight wobble or two, all of the full-fledged curtsies were executed perfectly.
While some old codgers of “the good old days” shot surprised looks at the charming twenty-somethings whopping it up, their throwing shade didn’t deter the enthusiasm of the friends of the 33 debs and their Honor Guard escorts.
Despite having a great excuse to be distracted, Claire Fletcher performed like a seasoned pro as well.
What was the distraction? Like a 21st century Romeo declaring his feelings of ardor, a chap hollered at Claire from the back of the Hall, “I love you!… S**t, yeah!”
Once Claire had completed her bow and was being escorted off stage by escort Paul Cooke, the undeterred admirer announced loudly once again: “I love you, Claire!”
Hopefully, after the debs danced the first dance with their dads in the Meyerson lobby—the song was “Moon River”—Claire’s unvanquished cheerleader got a chance to waltz around the dance floor with her, too.
For more photos, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.