Dramatic Lighting Takes Center Stage at Washington Ballet Gala

The Washington Ballet's "Unmask the Night: A Grande Masquerade Soiree" used dramatic lighting to set the tone.

By Adele Chapin October 31, 2013, 7:30 AM EDT

The Studio Company of the Washington Ballet performed "Diamant," a piece commissioned for the event, choreographed by Aaron Jackson and set to pop music like Rihanna's "Diamonds." 

Photo: Tony Brown/

For the Washington Ballet’s third annual Ballet Soiree October 26, sponsor Akridge donated a dramatic and unique space: the soaring atrium of the Homer Building, a 12-story office building on 13th Street in downtown Washington. At Saturday’s “Unmask the Night: A Grande Masquerade Soiree,” swirling, colored lights and a giant dance floor transformed the space into a nightclub-esque scene for 450 guests. 

Because nothing could be attached to the structure of the building, per the rules of the venue, Liz Sizer, manager of special events for the Washington Ballet, relied on dramatic lighting to set the event’s tone. “In my opinion, the lighting tends to be the most important aspect of a decor plan,” Sizer said. But she had another ace up her sleeve in terms of setting the mood for a masquerade ball. The gala attendees really embraced the evening’s theme, with nearly everyone wearing ornate masks. “They really go all out, and they come in with the right attitude,” Sizer said of the ballet’s supporters. “A big part of the decor is the guest themselves and their masks.”

The annual Ballet Soiree is usually themed around the ballet that the Washington Ballet is currently presenting, but since a Giselle-theme party would have have proved difficult, Sizer and the Washington Ballet’s Women’s Committee and Jeté Society decided on a masquerade ball instead, in honor of Halloween. Floral arrangements with feathers and orchids from Petals and Hedges topped buffet tables stacked with quesadillas and fish tacos provided by Main Event Caterers. For the first time, the event's silent auction went high-tech, thanks to 501 Auctions. Guests could bid via their smartphones or iPads for items such as a dinner with Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema and Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet. 

At 9:15 p.m., dancers from the Studio Company of the Washington Ballet performed “Diamant,” a high-energy piece commissioned for the event and choreographed by the ballet’s Aaron Jackson. The crowd cheered on the troupe, and as soon as the piece was over, the protective padding on the dance floor was ripped off and guests headed out to dance to “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. “There’s always dancing at these parties,” Sizer said. “People take to the dance floor.”

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