Ballet Austin Fête & Fêteish at W Hotel

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

By Michael Barnes | Saturday, September 24, 2011, 10:19 PM

http://www.austin360.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/outandabout/entries/2011/09/24/ballet_austin_h.html

Ballet Austin has perfected the art of the blended gala. The soaring arts group matches the earlier-in-the-evening and more expensive Fête with the later, cheaper but even more festive Fêteish. The two previous years, these parties, the first a bit more grown-up with dinner and quieter music, were held in very different spaces. This year, Fête and Fêtish intermingled at the W Austin Hotel and Residences.

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Liz Redwine and Panola Sabo

To paraphrase Noël Coward, galas are a matter of lighting. This one, chaired by the ebullient Ava Late, started in the dark. The W’s Great Room was lit by dim, ambient light until stirring music announced the beginning of dinner and the sequential lighting of each table centerpiece by Victoria and Sofia Avila.

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Lee Walker and Carrie Fruge

This was my first sit-down dinner at the W, other than a couple of meals at Trace, the resident restaurant. It started inventively with a bewitching amuse bouche and then a bitter green salad. The entrée of salmon and steak was not exactly groundbreaking but did the job.

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Kristin and Christopher Han

My tablemates included Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills and his partner, Brent Hasty, both in scampy moods. Also in our circle were simply but gorgeously attired Austin school superintendent Meria Carstarphan and New York City Ballet president David W. HeleniakNina Denny and Jeremy Rathke, to my right, were kind enough to engage me in periodic banter.

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Lesley Angle and Brandon Taylor

Performance artist Norton Wisdom provided the entertainment with his instant paintings. Then came the live auction. Romantic travel packages went for premium rates. But I doubt anyone in the house thought the auction should have lasted longer.

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Todd Hester and Beth Terwilleger

I exited to join Fêteish, already in progress in the succession of interior and exterior spaces that surround the Great Hall. Now this was a party! I met scores of folks dressed in kicky cocktail couture. A marvelous lounge singer, Ava Aranella, cooed on the deck, reminding me of Julie London in her golden years.

This affair floated above the Second Street District until it merged with the crowds that had taken in Erasure at ACL Live next door. (The intersection of these social spaces is worth examining more closely some day.) No possible arguments: Ballet Austin consistently throws one of the very best parties of the season.

 

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