Saturday night, the people behind the Procession of the Species will be celebrating the hope of light in a dark time of year with the annual Illuminated Ball.
“Winter Solstice is the true Earth Day,” said Eli Sterling, the creator of the Procession, the annual Earth Day event that sees much of Olympia dressing as birds, bees and flowers, pulling floats down the streets, singing and banging on drums.
“It really is a time of recognizing that we revolve around the sun, the sun does not revolve around us, and that’s a good metaphor for how we should approach life.”
The ball is both a celebration of community and a fundraiser to help the Procession, and Earthbound Productions, the organization that produces it, make it through the long, dark winter.
Entertainment at the event will include dance by Radco (Random Acts of Dance Collective), music by Pumphouse and a luminary procession. There’ll also be desserts and a no-host bar.
The event is a bit simpler than in years past, when it included a full-scale pageant and a silent auction. The ticket price is quite a bit lower — $25 compared to $65 in 2014.
But if tradition holds, one of the highlights of the evening will be the art worn by those in attendance.
Participants are invited to dress to illuminate. In the past, attire has ranged from wild costumes to tuxedos and evening gowns to just about anything decked with lights.
“Take a string of lights and tape it onto a sports coat, or wear a flashy sequined dress,” Sterling said. “It’s a chance to be a little bit sassy.”
The Radco dancers also will be decked in lights, said Mary Nelson, who choreographed the dances the modern dance troupe will do at the event.
They’ll perform two dances, “Don’t Tango With Me,” a humorous piece that debuted at the group’s Arts Walk show in October, and one in which the dancers will interact with the luminaria, lighted art pieces created for the Luminary Procession that happens each April the night before the Procession of the Species. That second dance will lead into a luminary procession within the ballroom and then into an evening of dance music by Pumphouse.
“We’re each going to pick up a luminaria and improvise with them,” Nelson said. “I’ve always wanted to dance with luminaria instead of just processing with them, because they are so gorgeous.”
The dance will be to the Pink Martini version of Ravel’s “Bolero.” “It’s a really enticing song,” said Nicole Mercier, one of the ball’s organizers. “I had this sound in my head of how it could go.”
The annual ball, which in the past happened in February, grew out of the Solstice celebrations Earthbound produced from 1995-2002, Sterling said.
The change of date was prompted in part by the timing of last year’s Procession Generation Gala, a more elaborate fundraiser that happened in April at the Red Lion Inn.
That event, which included a meal and a silent auction, is set to happen next on March 26.
But Sterling is thrilled to be celebrating light during the darkest month of the year.
“The spirit of the Illuminated Ball is for us to be the light inside delight,” he said.
What: The 11th annual ball, a fundraiser for the Procession of the Species, celebrates the spirit of hope in winter with music, dance and a chance to dress up.
When: From 8 p.m.-midnight Saturday, with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Eagles Ballroom, 805 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia.
Tickets: $25 in advance at bit.ly/1QfLoXP and Traditions Cafe & World Folk Art, $30 at the door.
Also: The event is open to people 21 and older only.