An Evening Like None Other: SRQ Bal Masque

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The historic Sarasota Opera House was transformed into a gorgeous garden on the night of Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

On Saturday, October 3rd the historic Sarasota Opera House lit up downtown Sarasota with the sounds of music and laughter as guests gathered for the second annual SRQ Bal Masqué Gala: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. Though the dazzling venue is best known for hosting the likes of famous operatic performances, guests arrived to find it transformed into a garden of beautiful blooms and branches, complete with a green carpet leading up to the door. The foyer entrance was flanked by gorgeous garden gates provided by Sarasota Architectural Salvage and nodded to the evening’s theme.

Jesse White (right), owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage attends Bal Masqué on October 3rd. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jesse White (right), owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage attends Bal Masqué on October 3rd. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Traditional jazz played by Swingtide Combo of Venice resounded along the first floor and expansive atrium, where guests posed at the Mojo Photo Booth and sipped southern-inspired cocktails. Flooded in a mirage-like light display, the courtyard garden featured sweet melodies by Jen&Ray, a local Sarasota duo known for their crooning of classic and acoustic melodies.

Guests enjoyed custom Tervis Tumblers provided by event sponsor Cool Today in the courtyard. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Guests enjoyed custom Tervis Tumblers provided by event sponsor Cool Today in the courtyard. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Located on the balcony above the courtyard, Jen&Ray helped make the outdoor area of the event something spectacular. Students from Ringling College of Art and Design were stationed with easels throughout the floors of the Opera House, painting as the event stretched on into the night, providing entertainment and artistry as guests looked on.

Jaime Gee (right) entertained the VIP guests in the Harlequin Club on the third floor of the Opera House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jami Gee (right) entertained the VIP guests in the Harlequin Club on the third floor of the Opera House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

The towering third floor hosted the Harlequin Club, a VIP experience providing reserved seating, a private bar (complete with a display of Cool Today Tervis Tumblers) and entertainment by Jami Gee. An incredible spread of southern delicacies graced the table, all provided by Fete Catering at Polo Grill. Classic favorites like shrimp and grits paired with a rich gumbo, fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffle sliders. Guests couldn’t resist grilled pimiento cheese sandwiches served up at the Sweet & Savory dessert bar.

Guests take their seats to enjoy thrilling performances from the arts community in Sarasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Guests take their seats to enjoy thrilling performances from the arts community in Sarasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Doors to the auditorium opened at 9:45PM for an unforgettable main stage performance. Kicking off the evening with high energy and moving vocals, the Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida lit up the stage with colorful garb and a palpable enthusiasm that prepared the crowd for what was to come. Ringmaster and SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts greeted guests and led them through the performances on stage, beginning with a dizzying aerial duo performance by LunaStorme of the Circus Arts Conservatory. Hanging high above the stage, both performers exuded grace and acrobatic finesse as they whirled, at times intertwined, on a suspended hoop. The audience cheered at their amazing skill.

The Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida opened the evening with a resounding performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

The Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida opened the evening with a resounding performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

LunaStorme, performers with the Circus Arts Conservatory shared a duo lyra number. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

LunaStorme, performers with the Circus Arts Conservatory shared a duo lyra number. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

When Sarasota Contemporary Dance took the stage, the audience waited in hushed silence for the music to begin. A solitary dancer, Jahrel Thompson, delivered a stunning solo number. Part physical storytelling, part dramatic performance and wholly incredible, Sarasota Contemporary Dance delivered a powerful example of how dance can be a transformative experience.

Jahrel Thompson with Sarasota Contemporary Dance (formerly Fuzion), delivered a moving performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jahrel Thompson with Sarasota Contemporary Dance (formerly Fuzion), delivered a moving performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Also with the Circus Arts Conservatory, Rikki delivered a stunning performance on the silks. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Also with the Circus Arts Conservatory, Rikki delivered a stunning performance on the silks. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Students from the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School demonstrated the dedication and precision required of the ballet in a carefully choreographed display of strength and ability. The curtains opened once more for an astounding routine by Rikki of the Circus Arts Conservatory on silks. She mesmerized the audience with seamless movement striking physical stamina while suspended in mid-air.

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Post performance, the party continued into the courtyard for dancing and desserts. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

As midnight quickly approached, desserts and dancing commenced in the courtyard under the moonlight. An assortment of cookies from Sift Bakehouse in the shape of masks and apples were the perfect bite to close out a fantastic evening in Sarasota.

SRQ Media is incredibly grateful for the community’s support of this magical evening. Special thanks to Bal Masqué Sponsors: Chillounge, Cool Today, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Mojo Foto Booth, Morton’s Gourmet Market, Sarasota Opera House, Short Stop Market, SignZoo, Sift Bakehouse, Siesta Key Rum, Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, Spotlight Graphics, SunTrust Bank, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Tropex Plant Leasing, US Tent Rental and Victoria Blooms.

Thank you to the Harlequin Club, performers and beneficiaries. For a full gallery of photos from the night, click here.

See you next year!

 

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