On the ball

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Mikayla Payant, left, Rukyya Badreldin, Olivia Zed, Sophia Caragianis, Marielle Balanaser, Sabrina Assaly, Madeline Boyd and Annie Marland try on elegant white gowns at David’s Bridal store during a fitting for the Viennese Opera Ball. They were among 14 teens selected as debutantes at the annual glitzy charity event on Feb. 2. (Photo: Bruno Schlumberger)

Madeline Boyd got the chance to try on several formal gowns.

It was like a scene out of a fairy tale as Ottawa area high school students slipped into elegant, floor-length gowns fit for a princess.

The teens, debutantes at the upcoming Viennese Opera Ball, have spent hours over the past couple of months learning the intricate waltz steps. Monday’s trunk show at David’s Bridal store was about having fun and finding the perfect white dress for their big night.

The annual ball, now in its 17th year, kicks off Ottawa’s gala calendar circuit on Feb. 2 in the Great Hall of the National Gallery. About 250 guests are expected to attend, including 28 students — 14 young men and women — selected from 12 area high schools, who open the black-tie affair with a traditional Austrian waltz dressed in gowns, tuxes and long white gloves. The glitzy night begins with champagne cocktails, a delicious meal created by Thyme & Again that includes a mix of Austrian and Canadian cuisine, and, of course, lots of dancing. Proceeds will support the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Bruyère Continuing Care and OrKidstra.

“Many of the students didn’t know each other so we’ve held a number of team-building events such as a tour of the Maplesoft Centre, a pizza night and the dress fitting,” says Michele Boyd of the Royal Bank, the ball’s lead sponsor.

“The students undergo a long selection process. They have to write an essay and attend a formal interview. They must be outgoing and well-spoken. It’s a privilege,” Boyd says.

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