The Illuminated Ball, now in its sixth year, is a gala spectacle of dance, music, art, theater and, of course, light - all of the elements one would expect, given that the ball is the main fundraiser for Procession of the Species.
This year, the performance part of the gala reflects another principle of the procession: diversity. Instead of being a pageant created by one group, the entertainment will be cabaret-style, with a series of performances on the theme “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”
“We always want to wow people,” said Paul Knox, one of the ball’s organizers. “This will wow them again; this will really shake things up.
“Olympia has such a wealth of talent, and people don’t all necessarily want to get involved in a big pageant and come to a million meetings,” he said. “We recruited what we thought were some of the more creative talents in town that had some real diversity.”
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Among those talents: aerial acrobatics by the Tallhouse Arts Consortium, puppetry by Dan Luce of the Performance Laboratory for Objects and Puppets (PLOP), storytelling by actress Elizabeth Lord, and modern dance by the Random Acts of Dance Collective (RADCO). And it will wrap up with a mini rock opera, “Primordial Soup,” a co-creation involving several people who have performed at past Illuminated Balls.
“It’s about the beginning of life that emerged from the primordial soup,” said Karl Herzog, one of the creators of the 10- to 12-minute piece. “It involves the creation of DNA from all these molecules floating around in the soup, and it’s a celebration of the magic of that.”
Tying the whole show together will be the Sleeper (played by Procession founder Eli Sterling) and the Dreamer (played by dancer and dance teacher Mel Bilodeau), who together are meant to be dreaming all of the acts.
“They’re all separate dreams that the Dreamer is having,” said Herzog, who’ll play music and sing in the rock opera. “We’ve been thinking about this thing as sort of like a vaudeville show. You have all different kinds of talents come up and perform.”
And as at past Illuminated Balls, the attendees are part of the entertainment, too. As Knox put it: “Dress to illuminate.”
“This is a wonderful event that combines dressing up with light, and wilder features like tall hats and hair coloring,” Knox said. “It’s really the way that people come out and dress that makes it so special. More than just seeing a performance piece, it’s the people who make it.”