The ball, the biggest fundraiser for the Procession of the Species, will literally illuminate the natural world this year with its theme of bioluminescence, the production and emission of light by a living organism.
The event includes a pageant showcasing visual art, dance, aerial acrobatics and original music most of it illuminated in some way plus a veritable procession of South Sounders dressed in their shiny, flashy, twinkling and glittering best. The evening also includes dancing, music by The Brown Edition and a silent auction.
Its a way to highlight the creative sparks of the community as well as to raise money for the 19th annual Procession of the Species, the nonmotorized, noncommercialized parade that celebrates the natural world each spring. (This year, the big day is April 27.)
A key fundraising goal this year is to support the Procession Studio, the year-round art studio where many of the processions most fabulous creatures are made, procession founder Eli Sterling said.
Its a huge undertaking to operate a year-round art studio, Sterling said. Yet he sees the ball primarily as a celebration and an artistic adventure. This years adventure took volunteers on a journey of discovery about bioluminescence.
We did all kinds of research online, said volunteer Karen Janowitz, who has been building luminary fireflies, certainly one of the most familiar representatives of the phenomena of light generation. We came across an expert named Dr. Edith Widder, who did a TED talk that inspired us a lot. (See the talk at http://tinyurl.com/widdertalk.)
Widder works with mimicking bioluminescence in the ocean, where it is common.
About 90 percent of the animals in the ocean are bioluminescent, Janowitz said. We have created big sea vents, and on those sea vents we have crabs and clams and worm tubes. We have jellyfish.
We have been taking that scientific information and including it in the art that were making.
That we includes more young volunteers than in years past, said the processions Nichole Rose. Its a multigenerational community collaboration, she said.
One example: Echo Martens, 12, who is home-schooled, designed the skin for a giant angler fish. She dyed sheets with a really complex, beautiful technique to create mottled skin, Rose said.
This years aerialists are youths, too, she said, students of Sara Sparrow, who rents part of the Procession Studio to teach aerial acrobatics.
The ball also had more high-tech help this year from a local nonprofit called OlyMEGA (Olympia Makers, Engineers, Geeks and Artists). The group also is behind the power-tool races that happen as part of Arts Walk.
They are projecting moving pictures onto dancers bodies, Rose said. There are some very cool high-tech special effects.
One that sounds particularly charming is a simulation of red tide.
It sparkles when you disturb the water, Rose said. They created a similar effect with a screen. You put your hand on it and move it around and it manipulates the image.
They are bringing a lot of dimension to the Illuminated Ball.