The Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Presentation Ball went on a diet for 2019. Instead of the usual 40+ debs, DSOL President Lisa Loy Laughlin and Presentation Ball Chair Carla Leffert went lean with just 32 debs for the fundraiser at the Meyerson on Saturday, February 9.
What a relief! Instead of the McDermott Hall stage bulging with girls in white gown and gents in tails, this one was picture perfect.
Even the dance floor following the presentation was user-friendly. Instead of debs and dads appearing to be bumper cars, they actually had room to do under-arm turns. Those dance lessons really paid off!
Still, the evening didn’t start with great hopes. The grand get-together of debs and escorts got off to a false start, with one escort popping up only after the picture-perfect shots had been taken by the James French troop.
Before that moment took place, James French and daughter Camille French had been photographing parents, debs, escorts and extended families at the top of the lobby’s semi-circular staircase.
In between, stats, James had been on the lookout for his ladder to shoot the group photos. Meantime, parents, friends, debs and escorts chatted and made last minute adjustments, like deb Megan Molthan and her mom Heather Molthan and her sister Molly re-arranged a bobby pin in Megan’s hair.
Deb fashion notes: Stanley Korshak was well represented with debs Carly Cooper, Katherine Fraser, Kate Gioldasis, Natalie Groves, Mary Margaret Jaynes, Alix Lippincott, Elizabeth McIlyar, Mindy Osler, Elizabeth Reid, Lily Schiff, Lauren Schnitzer, Livy Scott, Samantha Sullivan, Sally Wade, Ava Wall and Whitney Wheeler in the store’s gowns… Katy Callewart wore a gown which was her cousins, her mom, Cheryl Callewart, had Dallas designer Patti Flowers create hers.
Once the group shots were taken, the debs went backstage, and the escorts and deb parents headed to the lower lobby’s bar to join guests like Honorary Co-Chairs Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, Joan Levy, Cara and Jim French, Tonja Wells with Ken Schnitzer, Tavia and Clark Hunt, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Shy Anderson, Sherwood Wagner with Todd Clendening, Nancy Labadie, Kendall Laughlin, Hendrika and Wills Diehl, Leigh-Adella Bransom, Amy and David McCullough and their son Hayden McCullough.
While the young female guests stood proud on heels higher than an Uptown high-rise, ladies of experience felt right at home in slide-on and ballet slippers. But who was to known under the billowing gowns?
At one point a guest reported that it appeared that someone had done a heavy drip-drop of water on the stairway leading form the ground level to the lower level. The staffer took the message and disappeared. The water, on the other hand, stayed in place.
Another problem resulted from the evening’s chill. Guests arrived wearing smashing furs and evening wraps. But upon entering the reception, they scoured the packed room looking for the “coat check,” to no avail. Then, at 10 minutes to 7, a coat rack finally materialized. Upon realizing that his mother Norma Hunt had left her cloak in their car, Dan Hunt contacted the family driver to return with his mother’s coat, while daughter-in-law Toni Munoz-Hunt in a smashing red-lace Naeem Khan offered Norma her wrap in the meantime.
As the chimes peeled, summoning friends and families to the McDermott Hall, the black-tie crowd of 1,100 moved to their seats. And while liquid libations were left at the door, it was amazing to see some gals—with thong-lines showing in their almost-too-tight gowns and perfect young facing—looking like metal crunchers as they chomped down on wads of chewing gum.
Once the hall was filled, emcee Stan Gardner introduced the leadership Dallas Symphony Orchestra League President Lisa Loy Laughlin, Presentation Chair Carla Leffert, the co-chairs (Dixey Arterburn, Ginger Sager and Annell Williams) the Assembly officers (Madison Hassell, Kay Hitzelberger, Fallon Bock, Caroline Downing, Brookie Hewes, Marielle Lemasters, Perrin Griffin, Bailey Turfitt and Allie Beth Zashin) and Honor Guard officers (Alexander Pearson, Duncan MacFarlane, Spencer Hardin, Carter Ligon, John Niederer, Cameron Keith, Michael Metzger, Shy Anderson Jr., Hayden Smith and Russell Huffines).
It was then time for the presentation of the debs (Maddie Basso, Katy Callewart, Carly Cooper, Savannah Crow, Avery Davis, Katherine Fraser, Kathleen Gamso, Kate Gioldasis, Natalie Groves, Gracie Hunt, Mary Margaret Jaynes, Alix Lippincott, Georgia McGill, Elizabeth McIlyar, Megan Molthan, Elizabeth Moore, Caroline Mulligan, Coco Murchison, Hattie Newton, Mindy Osler, Cassandra Polley, Elizabeth Reid, Anna Robertson, Lily Schiff, Lauren Schnitzer, Livy Scott, Nicole Smith, Emily Stone, Samantha Sullivan, Sally Wade, Ava Wall and Whitney Wheeler).
It followed the time-honored tradition of the deb being introduced at the top of the stage, joined by her father or older family friend/member, and then escorted down the stairs to the stage. After receiving a peck on the cheek, the deb executed a full bow to the audience, extended her left arm to her evening’s escort, rose, posed for photos and exited the stage. It all went seamlessly to the cheering audience. Yes, they do cheer at a presentation ball: “I love you, Katherine!” shouted one young man. “You’re so pretty!”
As some debs headed up the aisle, they waved at friends and smiled in relief.
However, some of the debs discovered their biggest challenge lay at the back of the hall. It was managing the steps leading up to the exit. With a bouquet in one hand and an arm in the escort’s arm, the billowing white skirt often didn’t make way. In some cases, the escorts, realizing that their debs were on the verge of stepping on the gowns, relinquished the debs’ arms and helped pick up the skirt.
After a grand finale of the debs and escorts in full array on the stage, the couples paraded to the lobby. There, the debs parted company with their escorts and were greeted by their parents who were in place around the dance floor. Soon the Jordan Khan Orchestra struck up the first song of the night—”Moon River”—with debs and dads showing off their best dance moves.
For more photos of the evening, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.