The Houston Ballet Receives a
$10 Million Gift and Its Home Gets a Noteworthy New Name
Margaret Alkek Williams
Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance
Vivek and Ishwaria Subbiah
Margaret Alkek Williams
Photo by Wilson Parish
The Houston Ballet has announced that a $10 million legacy gift has been bestowed upon the institution by loyal ballet patron Margaret Alkek Williams. The extraordinary philanthropic commitment will go to the Houston Ballet Endowment where it will provide unrestricted support to maintain the institution’s home. It will also guarantee that the Houston Ballet’s mission, to inspire a lifelong love of dance within the community, endures.
On May 9, 2022, the Houston Ballet dinner celebrating Williams’ lifetime support of the institution turned into an exciting surprise reveal when the company announced its home is to be named the Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance. Of the honor, Houston Ballet Executive Director, James Nelson, stated: “It is because Margaret has been such a cherished friend, enlightened leader, and generous benefactor that we will meaningfully honor her legacy in perpetuity. Her significant patronage to the Houston Ballet will forever represent cornerstones of Houston Ballet’s history.”
Williams’ story with the company began in 1989 when she became a member of its board of trustees. Continuing through the leadership of two artistic directors, Ben Stevenson and Stanton Welch, Williams’ generosity has resulted in numerous milestones. A gift from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation endowing one of the principal dancer positions has served as a catalyst for attracting and retaining exceptional talent.
In 2003, Williams took on a leadership role by joining the executive committee of the board of trustees. In the same year, Welch assumed the directorship of the company, and Williams underwrote its first full-length classical ballet with the new director. Sleeping Beauty introduced Welch to Houston in fine style.
As Houston Ballet grew, it became clear additional rehearsal and office space were needed. A capital campaign to construct the Center for Dance, a new space connected by a sky bridge to the Wortham Theater Center, the company’s performance home, was begun in 2008. Williams’ generous support of the campaign was instrumental in its success. The resulting building is considered the largest facility dedicated to dance in the United States. To commemorate her generosity, the Houston Ballet named the Center for Dance’s black box theater the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab. Not only is it a state-of-the-art rehearsal space, it is also a facility for free dance education for all Houstonians.
In 2016, Welch presented the Jubilee of Dance, a one-night-only gala featuring excerpts from existing and forthcoming works, which showcased every dancer in the company, and at which Williams was honored. The following year, Williams endowed the unique performance in perpetuity, officially naming it the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance. With the endowment, Williams became a founding member of the Etoile Society, a group that recognises the most generous of Houston Ballet’s supporters.
Now, in 2022, with Houston Ballet’s home being named the Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance, Williams’ story with the company has come full circle. “I am so proud to see the Houston Ballet become an international arts ambassador for our city,” says Williams. “I am deeply honored that the iconic Center for Dance building, where ballet company members can be seen twirling or leaping in the studios from the windows, will bear my name. It is my sincere hope that as one walks through the doors they will continue to learn, enjoy, and excel in this beautiful art form.”
About Houston Ballet
Houston Ballet is committed to maintaining and enhancing its status as: A classically trained company with a diverse repertory whose range includes the classics as well as contemporary works; A company that attracts the world's best dancers and choreographers and provides them with an environment where they can thrive and further develop the art form; An international company that is accessible to broad and growing local, national, and international audiences; A company with a world-class Academy that provides first rate instruction for professional dancers and meaningful programs for non-professional dancers; A company with state-of-the-art facilities for performances, rehearsals, and ongoing operations.