Bohemian Masquerade Was a Ball

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Performers at the 2014 Bohemian Masquerade Ball. CREDIT: Aaron Ashley

By Danaella Wivell

Over 200 guests attended the third annual Bohemian Masquerade Ball at Federation Place in August this year. The event featured experimental artwork from a number of artists hailing from North Queensland, and Townsville in particular.

Michelle Fay and the crew of Artspaced Inc. organised the ball to present art in a myriad of familiar and experimental art forms to local people and visitors to Townsville.

“I wanted to remove art from stuffy, white box environments, and make it a part of life,” said Fay. “It’s a celebration of the all of the diverse forms of the arts practised here in Townsville, as an alternative to events like the annual arts awards of days gone by, which were fairly limited in their production.”

Fay said that some contemporary artists struggle to exhibit their art here in Townsville, due to the experimental, performance-based nature of their work and the limited choices of spaces to produce larger interactive works involving new media.

The night opened with a musical performance from Terrapin, a local, contemporary, folk band. Front woman Tasha Zappala said that this was the first time the band had performed at the event. “[The ball] is an awesome place to connect with other artists,” said Zappala. The band performed a brand new set list of their latest songs.

A pivotal performance of the night was the spoken word and dance collaboration, offering up a unique take on the tale of Persephone. The performance featured live music, spoken word from high above the crowd, and enchanting dancers who captivated the audience.

The Vertigals showcased a particularly popular performance piece, which allowed the audience to project love letters onto their silks as they hung from a crane.

The audience were also invited to participate in a hands-on workshop with Movimiento dancers. The volunteers were physically directed by a dancer, and filmed. The film was then edited into fast forward and projected onto a nearby building

The ball guests were required to be masked to enter, and had the opportunity to make their own masks prior to the ball at the Old Courthouse Theatre, with Artisan Sabine Carter. These crafty workshops run via Artspaced Inc. were supported by Full Throttle theatre and Townsville City Council.

In terms of costuming the night was a success, with guests sporting full-length ball gowns,the  intricate, recycled bicycle tube masks and  small antlers suggesting Bohemian wings.

Ryan Anderson, a circus artist for La Luna Arts and trapeze performer at the ball, said, “It [the Bohemian Masquerade Ball] is the one event every year that I would never miss and love to perform at.” Ryan has been working as a circus performer for six years, and training with La Luna for four.

Every corner of the alternative space was used to exhibit art, and to provide ball goers with a chance to participate with the artists and artwork where possible.

This is the third year that the Bohemian Masquerade Ball has run, and the crowd turn out has grown also. Pre-event ticket sales alone trumped 2013’s efforts, with word of mouth and enthusiasm for art garnering the support of Townsville locals.

This article was first published in October 2014 in Artgaze Magazine.

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