Jenny Pollard, The Buloke Times
An elegantly presented Debutante Set featuring ten stylish couples made for a night to remember as the mid-winter Debutante Ball, co-ordinated by the Charlton Neighbourhood House, unfolded from a glittering pavilion stage set at shire hall in Charlton last Friday night.
The culmination of many weeks and months of preparation and planning was a credit to all involved, and showcased the timelessness of etiquette which often is treated as an anachronism in today’s society.
Resplendent in formal attire – the boys in black suits, with navy and silver button holes, and the girls in fitted white, shimmering ball gowns with an accompanying navy and silver bracelet – the group was complemented by the adorable attendants – Molly Riley and Ned Larmour, along with Lila Lanyon and Vincent Roberts, who opened the evening with a presentation to the official party. This comprised Xanthe Fitzpatrick (Charlton Young Citizen of the Year) and Deb trainers Wes and Michelle Jenkyn (Wes is also Charlton Citizen of the Year).
With host Natasha Saunders welcoming the crowd, the themed setting – “Promenade at the Pavilion” – had been masterminded by creatives Donna McCallum and Bernice Kenny (with assistance from Jenny Pollard and Dale McCallum), as the light-festooned pavilion, draped with silver chiffon, a glowing chandelier, flowers, greenery and a garden seat was revealed as the stage curtains opened.
The format of the presentation saw each boy walk from the supper room to the stage, greet his partner, then escort her down the hall where a floral tribute was then handed to each couple’s parent / significant other.
Following the presentation to the official party, the couple then progressed back to the assembly point at the foot of the stage, while individual back stories, aspirations and achievements, along with dress commentaries, were shared with the audience. All of the participants had also selected their own meaningful piece of music for this segment of the night.
Always a highlight of the event, the group re-formed to perform the presentation dances which included the St. Bernard Waltz, Dorothea Waltz, Merrilyn Waltz and the Barn Dance Heel and Toe Polka.
Trainers, Wes and Michelle Jenkyn, continue to share their time and talents to hone the dancing skills of the young people who undertake this annual event, and it is thanks to their patience and encouragement that the outcome is always an ongoing success.
It is during this portion of the night where the girls’ dresses really show to advantage, with the waltzes helping to create a snow-fall of whiteness, as the tuille, chiffon and delicately glittering skirts swirl in time to the music.
Many of the gowns featured shoe-string straps, corset style lace-up backs and boned bodices.
A mixture of A-line and princess style outfits with delicately fitted lace, some embellished with tiny pearls, crystals and embroidery, was enhanced with understated jewelery – some of which had been a gift, or, in one case, a family heirloom.
To complete this segment, debutantes and their partners then invited their parents, or significant person, to join them in the Pride of Erin. Versatile pianist, Gil Gretgrix provided the musical accompaniment for the dances.
While a long list of acknowledgements was included on the official program, recognition of a core group was carried out by Debutante couple, Emily Olive and Cooper Boyle, who opened by commending the efforts and commitment of the Charlton Neighbourhood House, its staff and volunteers in bringing the ball to fruition. Gifts were presented to Wes and Michelle, along with the four young attendants, host Natasha Saunders, set designers Donna McCallum and Bernice Kenny, and pianist, Gil Gretgrix.
Following group photos and supper, the Debutantes, partners, families and extended crowd enjoyed dancing to the music provided by Leo Tellefson and Ross Lane.
The Deb Set
Charlton’s 2023 Deb set comprised:
Ebony Start and Hugh Sait, Ezmerellda Gray and Elliott Fitzpatrick, Emily Olive and Cooper Boyle, Malakia Marshall and Saxon Steel, Crystal Rose Murray and Cole Hendy, L Johnstone and Murphy McGeown, Dayne Bartlett and Ned Zagame, Alinta Marshall and Will Nicholson, Sema Headon and Fletcher Holmes-Brown, Bonnie Elliot and Rory King.
Unique to the make-up of this year’s group were two sisters Malakia and Alinta Marshall, a brother and sister, Will Nicholson and Bonnie Elliott, and Japanese exchange student, Sema Headon.
This article appeared in The Buloke Times, 30 June 2023.