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Fairy Ball brings magic to the Paseo Arts District Saturday

by Brandy McDonnell Published: September 20, 2013
Amanda Lane watches her daughter play during the Fairy Ball in the Paseo Saturday, September 24, 2011. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman Archives
Amanda Lane watches her daughter play during the Fairy Ball in the Paseo Saturday, September 24, 2011. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman Archives

A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.

Fairy Ball brings magic to the Paseo Arts District Saturday
Theatre Upon a StarDanceSwan, a nonprofit dance company based in the Paseo, is organizing its 13th Annual Fairy Ball for 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the “Fairy Green,” an open field at Dewey and NW 28, just west of Paseo Grill.

Lorrie Keller believes in the magic music, dance and art can conjure in the lives of children.

For the founder and creative director of Theatre Upon a Star-DanceSwan, that belief is based on her own girlhood experiences and led to the creation of the Paseo Arts District’s popular Fairy Ball.

“When dusk descends upon the ball and the lights start to make a glow and the dancing begins, it is beautiful. It really does have a sense of the extraordinary,” Keller said.

Theatre Upon a StarDanceSwan, a nonprofit dance company based in the Paseo, is organizing its 13th Annual Fairy Ball for 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the “Fairy Green,” an open field at Dewey and NW 28, just west of Paseo Grill.

The whimsical all-ages event invites children to take part in hands-on visual arts activities followed by free-form dancing to live music by Oklahoma City electronic musician/composer Steve McLinn. Plus, Keller is adding some particularly personal magic to this year’s welcoming performance by the StarDanceSwan dancers.

“The costumes that they’ll be wearing were created in the late ‘40s, and they were worn by a group called The Gypsies that my father and mother were in. Herbert Bagwell was the director and founder of the group; he owned Inter-City Violin Studios … and he instigated and was very prominent and active in helping the music programs throughout Oklahoma as well as our symphony,” Keller said. “I was born into this group and attended all their Gypsies jobs when they were in Oklahoma, but they performed in 36 states. And I started performing when I was about 14 … but I really had my first performance when I was 4 because they couldn’t keep me down. I would be on the sidelines copying all the dancers. It’s really why I am who I am.”

She opted to keep the fairytale narrative of the Fairy Ball opening dance a secret. But McLinn said that Oklahoma City violinist Kyle Dillingham, who also has family ties to The Gypsies, will help set the mood for the welcoming performance.

Costumed children encircle Casey Tisdale and KC Ortega of Theatre Upon a StarDanceSwan at the 2012 Fairy Ball on the Paseo. Photo provided by Skip Largent
Costumed children encircle Casey Tisdale and KC Ortega of Theatre Upon a StarDanceSwan at the 2012 Fairy Ball on the Paseo. Photo provided by Skip Largent

Enchanted evening

Fairy Ball attendees are invited, but not required, to dress as fairies, elves, bugs, blossoms or other whimsical creatures or to don festive attire. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. with Flower Magic, during which youngsters use palm fronds to create fairy wings and real flowers to craft crowns or other embellishments to their costumes.

“I really want children to be able to enter that space that is often not available to them and that is the space of creativity and the space of natural beauty,” Keller said. “I know how powerful it is to be right in the middle of the arts, and I want that for other children and for them to be encouraged and to have those experiences, to dance with the dancers and a real, live musician who is playing his own wonderful music.”

The “Fairy Green” will be adorned with twinkle lights, and as twilight falls, the StarDanceSwan dancers will perform with Dillingham and McLinn at about 7:45 p.m. Children and adults then will be invited to engage in free-spirited dancing to McLinn’s improvised electronic world music until about 9 p.m. McLinn said he appreciates the Fairy Ball’s spontaneous, upbeat vibe, and he annually writes a few pieces especially for the event.

“It’s an eclectic soup of various cultures and various styles of music — modern and ancient,” McLinn said. “It’s a real magical event, full of wonder and surprises. It’s a lot of fun.”

Riley Cranford, 2 1/2, plays with her wand during the Fairy Ball in the Paseo Saturday, September 24, 2011. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman Archives.
Riley Cranford, 2 1/2, plays with her wand during the Fairy Ball in the Paseo Saturday, September 24, 2011. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman Archives.

Growing event

The Fairy Ball has earned a growing and devoted following, said Jennifer Barron, executive director of the Paseo Arts Association. It annually draws about 650 children and adults to the Paseo Arts District.

“It seems to be growing a little bit every year, and I’m excited that it’s so popular. … It’s something that’s open to all. There’s no cost to attend, so there’s no barrier to entry. For that reason, it attracts a pretty wide, a pretty diverse crowd,” Barron said. “There’s no set end product. It’s not like a child will come and be required to make one specific thing. They really take the lead with their own creativity and the goal of Lorrie Keller is to give kids the opportunity to find their own voice.”

The Fairy Ball was originally established about as an artistic celebration of midsummer, but organizers moved it three years ago to September in response to record high temperatures in August. It will go on Saturday rain or shine, with the activities moving into various Paseo studios and galleries in the event of wet weather.

“The children love it one way or the other. They love to dress up and they love to come out and see the other fairies and be able to dance,” Keller said. “They’re really serious about it being a fairy gathering.”

KC Ortega and daughter Cayenne Ortega, of Theatre Upon a StarDanceSwan, prepare for their dance at the 2012 Fairy Ball on Paseo. Photo provided by Skip Largent
KC Ortega and daughter Cayenne Ortega, of Theatre Upon a StarDanceSwan, prepare for their dance at the 2012 Fairy Ball on Paseo. Photo provided by Skip Largent

Staying power

Hopefully, Keller said, the magic of the Fairy Ball will linger for parents and children after the dancing ends Saturday night. She encourage parents to dig through forgotten corners of their closets, their old costume stash or secondhand store bins and help their youngsters design a recycled original costume before the ball.

“I encourage parents to work with their children ahead of time to help them move into their imaginations and help them develop a name and build a character. At this time when both parents are working, it’s often difficult to find time to develop an original costume, but it’s also a really special time when that can happen,” Keller said.

“Once their creativity has been stirred, to continue with certain aspects of their experience at home can be really strong and powerful for the children. They could continue with developing costumes and finding ways to repurpose clothing together and have a costume box. They can find beautiful music and encourage their children to move and dance. They can even create a story about the character and what their little character does in their life.”

GOING ON

FAIRY BALL ON PASEO

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Fairy Green at Dewey and NW 28, just west of Paseo Grill.

Admission: Free, but donations will be accepted to offset expenses. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Information: 525-2688 or www.thepaseo.com.

-BAM


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more...
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