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Dreamy Ballet Gala

Ballet Austin conjures up some enchanted evening for annual Fête and Fête*ish

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Lee Walker, Carrie Walker Photo by Arnold Wells
Ballet Austin Fete and Fete*ish
Stephen Mills, Cookie Ruiz Photo by Arnold Wells
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Brian Glyer, April Glyer Photo by Arnold Wells
Sandra Rascon and William Jackson at Ballet Austin Fete and Fete*ish
Sandra Rascon, William Jackson Photo by Arnold Wells
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Aaron Marcus, Nancy Marcus Photo by Arnold Wells
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Magical creatures floated and flitted through Fête*ish, Fête's companion party. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Sampling the bounty at Fête*ish. Photo by Arnold Wells
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The Fête*ish party carried out Fête's dreamy theme in a more casual but no less enchanting fashion. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Amelia Harvey, Robert Brown Photo by Arnold Wells
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An aerialist from Cirque USA  took center stage at Fête*ish. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Catherine Kimball, Garry Kimball Photo by Arnold Wells
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Ellen Helweg, Wende Parks Photo by Arnold Wells
Ballet Austin Fete and Fete*ish, Victoria Avila, Sofia Avila
Victoria Avila, Sofia Avila Photo by Arnold Wells
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Paul Hatcher, Dana Laird Photo by Arnold Wells
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Shelley Berger, Christina Toronyi Photo by Arnold Wells
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Karen Burgess, Kathy Smith Photo by Arnold Wells
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Lauren Guest, Melissa Bluntzer, Rick Bluntzer, Hannah Nokes Photo by Arnold Wells
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Cocktail chatter at Fête. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Barbara Kim, Ning Drako Photo by Arnold Wells
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Claudia Bennett, Suzanne Bosch, Carrie Walker Photo by Arnold Wells
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Mandy Curi, Tere O'Connell Photo by Arnold Wells
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Ryan Moore, Neely Hannah Photo by Arnold Wells
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Fête's A Midsummer Night's Dream theme transformed the Driskill's banquet room into a stunning fantasy world. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Flower centerpieces were created by Sofia and Victoria Avila's Mandarin Flower Co. The sisters also served as co-chairs of this year's Fête*ish. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Paul Bancroft, Clara Bancroft Photo by Arnold Wells
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Katie Caplener, Bethany Morgio Photo by Arnold Wells
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Divisi Strings entertained at Fête and Fête*ish. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Fête*ish's dreamy VIP room. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Pei-San Brown, Eric Caruthers, Timothy Dillon Photo by Arnold Wells
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That aerialist? She bartends, too. Photo by Arnold Wells
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Lisa Funay, Trent McCarley Photo by Arnold Wells
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Ballet Austin Fete and Fete*ish
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Sandra Rascon and William Jackson at Ballet Austin Fete and Fete*ish
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Ballet Austin Fete and Fete*ish, Victoria Avila, Sofia Avila
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The theme of this year's Ballet Austin Fête and Fête*ish could not have been more different, meteorologically speaking, from the Nutcracker-inspired winter wonderland that greeted last year's revelers. Friday's extravaganza was instead the embodiment of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the perfect touchstone for a sultry evening in early September — which is, of course, still very much summertime in these parts.

At the evening's start, Ballet Austin's preternaturally unflustered and friendly Barbara Shack made sure the glamorous passengers emerging from the line of limos, town cars and cabs outside the Driskill Hotel were guided efficiently to the welcome cool and excited chatter inside. Fête guests made their way to the mezzanine, where, after greeting event chairs Alex and Heather Ladage, they enjoyed cocktails, conversation and the music of Divisi strings.

 Most partygoers had clearly taken to heart the invitation to "dress for magic," combining chic formalwear with feathers, floral garlands and glittering jewels.

As befits this yearly kickoff to Austin's social season, the crowd was a perfect mix of arty and elegant. Joining artistic director Stephen Mills and executive director Cookie Ruiz were supporters Lee and Carrie Walker, Ryan Moore, Neely Hannah, Catherine and Garry Kimball, Celeste Roberts-Lewis, Tom Farrell, Paul and Clara Bancroft, Lauren Guest, Rick and Melissa Bluntzer, and Hannah Nokes. Most partygoers had clearly taken to heart the invitation to "dress for magic," combining chic formalwear with feathers, floral garlands and glittering jewels that could be said to possess hypnotic powers.

Fête's designers were apparently similarly inspired, their crowning achievement being the lush, floral and – yes – magical forest of wonder they created for the buffet hall, where guests enjoyed a seated dinner followed by a rousing live auction. The gala then drifted across the mezzanine and blended into Fête*ish: a related, slightly more casual and freewheeling party that maintains the high style and abundant atmosphere of the formal event.

On the Fête*ish side of things, midsummer's magic took the form of a dazzling maze of lighting effects that created a forest of shadows on floors, walls and ceiling, along with a wall of flowing, colorful, maypole-like streamers and some aerial bartending courtesy of Cirque USA.

Revelers — including Shelley Berger, Christina Toronyi, Amelia Harvey, Robert Brown, William Jackson, Katie Caplener, Bethany Morgio, Sandra Rascon, Lisa Funay and Trent McCarley — mingled happily at bars and tables as they sampled ample cocktails and creative finger foods. All around them fairylike creatures and human butterflies flitted and floated about — presumably hints of what wonders the ballet's upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream might hold.

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