Girls in white dresses
Like graceful swans, 44 young women in billowing white ballgowns and long white gloves "Texas dipped" into society at the 38th Annual Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Presentation Ball on February 10 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
The culmination of nearly a year of parties, philanthropy, and training for the debutantes, DSOL Presentation Ball is one of the most glamorous, formal events in Dallas (including one of the only invitations to request a dress code of black or white tie).
The presentation of Dallas Symphony debutantes is a time-honored tradition for many of Dallas' most influential and philanthropic families. The debs are of college age and typically are graduates of Dallas-area high schools, but may be attending college out of the area.
Participation is open to all young women. Much like a sorority, participants pay fees and participate in parties, fundraisers, classes, and other events throughout the year, all leading up to the Presentation Ball.
The 2024 class was one of DSOL's biggest and most diverse in its nearly four-decade history (there were 26 presented last year). It took place under the guidance of chair Kristin Cordiak and DSOL President Nancy Labadie.
Honorary chairs were Margaretand Barry Hancock, who have special ties to DSOL: They had met when Margaret made her debut in 1992 and Barry was her Honor Guard escort. All of their children have participated in the Presentation Ball.
Now, for the most important part. The 2024 debutantes were: Helena Breland Bach; Erika Mae Batson; Mia Lane Blanton; Claire Elise Cahoon; Ellie McClain Gidden; Ripley Elizabeth Cooley; Kennedy Claire Downing; Electra Wallace Ford; Sarah Rose Gambrell; Catherine Lee Grayson; Camille Anne Greening; Meredith Elizabeth Hallam; Grace Soleil Handler; Caroline Parker Hart; Catherine Bradford Hunt; Isabella Ann Jackson; Ashley Elizabeth Jaynes; Ellen Taylor Jones; Minje Kwun; Emannuelle Grace Le Voyer; Claire Michael Levy; Riya Kaur Luthra; Elizabeth Myers Madison; Avery Pilar Moore; Finley Elizabeth Nelson; Day Gilmer Nettle; Lillian Susan Nettle; Mina Hiranmayee Raj; Bailey Erin Robirds; Courtenay Christianson Sands, Kathryn Bunker Sands; Caroline Robertson Smith; Sheridan Michelle Spencer; Caroline Story Stiles; Leslie Katherine Swango; Caroline Parker Teegarden; Payton Grace Thurman; Megan McKamy Dyer Underwood; Lauren Alexis Watkins; Charlotte Nicole Webb; Kelley Caroline Wheeler; Abigail Archer Willingham; Claire Anh Wooley; and Sophia Corina Yung.
In grand tradition that dates to Britain's Queen Victoria, each young woman was escorted onto the concert stage by her father (or an uncle or family friend) as the Dave Alexander Orchestra played a theme of her choosing - showtunes, pop songs, one proud Dallasite chose the theme song from TV's Dallas, and a University of Texas student went with "The Eyes of Texas." Dads then kissed them on the cheek, stepped to the side, and looked on proudly as the women walked forward.
Slowly, purposefully, gracefully, each woman curtsied all the way to the ground for her "Texas dip" - arms out, head forward, head bowed, head to the side - all while clutching a floral bouquet. A member of the Honor Guard then assisted her onto her feet and carefully escorted her off stage.
After all 44 women were presented, the audience headed hastily to the lobby, where trumpeters lined the grand staircase and the women were ushered onto the dance floor for the traditional father-daughter Grand Waltz.
Patrons found their tables for a sumptuous filet mignon dinner, and wine stewards never let glasses run dry. Then the Limelight Band took the stage, and the dance floor filled for a high-energy after-party.
The Presentation Ball, which was first held in 1987, is the largest fundraiser for the DSOL. Over $17 million has been raised for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra through the annual black- or white-tie event.
Founded in 1946, the DSOL's mission is to support the Dallas Symphony Orchestra through service, education and fundraising activities. Since 1998 the League has contributed over $22 million in support of the DSO's many community initiatives.