Lorrie Keller believes there is a true art to make-believe.
Children, parents and the young at heart are invited to practice that art Saturday at the annual Fairy Ball on Paseo.
“It's kind of a breathtaking time,” said Keller, founder and creative director of Theatre Upon a Star-DanceSwan, the nonprofit dance company that organizes the all-ages event.
“We just let the children and the twilight and the lights that are in the trees and the music take over ... and it offers so much wonder and imagination and energy.”
Established about a dozen years ago as an artistic celebration of midsummer, the Fairy Ball is being held in late summer for the second straight year because of record August temperatures.
“The time of year that we normally have had it, we were having 108 and 111 (-degree temperatures) this summer. So we were not happy that it's getting warmer, but at least we're happy that we were wise enough to go ahead and stay with a September date,” she said.
“That's what the art of make-believe does: You can always ... find a solution so there will be a happy ending,” she added with a laugh.
The Fairy Ball takes place outdoors on the “Fairy Green” at Dewey and NW 28, just west of Paseo Grill. Attendees are invited, but not required, to dress as fairies, elves, blossoms or other whimsical creatures or to don festive attire.
The festivities begin with Flower Magic, in which youngsters use palm fronds to create fairy wings and real flowers to craft crowns or other embellishments to their costumes. The shift closer to the autumnal equinox allows the Fairy Ball to celebrate the changing of the seasons: Along with daises, ferns and baby's breath, Keller said children will get to adorn themselves with fall leaves.
“The artists want to motivate the children to make the choices and get their fingers working ... with the flowers because that is empowering to the children. The children love it; just the opportunity to work with real flowers alone is unique,” she said.
“If you watch the children, that's where the stories begin to unfold. What's happening inside of them and how they're responding to the music and the costumes is the story. It's a subtle evening. We haven't had to do much to entertain.”
At 7:30 p.m., StarDanceSwan dancers will give a semi-improvised performance that will open the gates to the dance space and beckon attendees to do their own carefree dancing until 8:30 p.m. A mainstay of the event, Oklahoma City composer/multi-instrumentalist Steve McLinn again will bring his singular brand of “electrical acoustical fusion music” to the ball.
“I think it hearkens to joy and innocence. Almost everybody I know in our culture has been brought up on fairy tales and loving the art of make-believe, and it's the opportunity to create a space where make-believe can happen, where children can innocently play and generate their sense of wonder and hope,” Keller said.
The ball has earned a devoted following, said Jennifer Barron, executive director of the Paseo Arts Association. It annually draws about 500 participants to the Paseo Arts District.
“It's all about creativity. There's visual artists, there's dance artists, theater artists that all come together to make this event happen,” she said. “You've got this kind of multidisciplinary art experience, and it's completely free for the kids.”
The event fosters creative play and differs from make-and-take art activities children may experience at other events, Barron said.
“They're making fairy wings and they're making something to go on their costumes, but other than that, it's not like an art opportunity that's led. It doesn't have to look a certain way,” she said.
“They're just out there having fun with art of all kinds.”
Keller said she hopes the event will inspire parents to make time for more pretend play, especially incorporating art and dance, into their families' busy schedules.
“From my own (childhood) experience, I loved to be outside and I loved to be in places where the light was gorgeous and I could practice my make-believe,” she said.
“I feel that there is an art to make-believe, and if parents can rediscover this art, then their children will benefit.”