The Bowie Ball

The Opportunity

Once a year The Washington Ballet holds their Annual Spring Gala, a benefit for community engagement and educational programs that support the accessibility of dance and cultural opportunities to all, regardless of means. Every year the event adopts a new theme, transforming each spring celebration into a unique experience. This year, The Washington Ballet decided to pay tribute to recently deceased rock legend David Bowie. To achieve the “wow” factor that they so desired, The Washington Ballet sought out TalkingTree Creative to create the most immersive whimsical spring gala that they’ve had to date.

The Solution

The structure of the evening consisted of a cocktail hour, two choreographed dance performances, speeches and recognitions, dinner and social dancing. The venue of choice was the stunning Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. – the perfect canvas for creative (expression)opportunity. After visiting the space, TalkingTree proposed the perfect solution for an architecturally impressive venue – projection mapping. Our goal was to transform the Mellon into a whimsical space oddity-esque wonderland using only lighting and projection.

TalkingTree then designed and produced four videos for the evening, three of which were projected on the curved wall under the gold molding above the stage, and on to the adjacent pillars. The first video, for the walk in look, consisted of a floral David Bowie portrait with the Bowie Ball logo at its base, flanked by two iconic lightning bolts, all set upon a warm red twinkling background. The next was a beautiful montage of the great works of their guest of honor, Septime Webre, celebrating 17 years with the Washington Ballet. The video looped in the background, as toasts and speeches were made in his honor.

The third video was created for the longest portion of the evening, the dinner and dance party portion. TTC and The Washington Ballet combined efforts to collect as many David Bowie photos and music videos as we could get our hands on. Utilizing our findings, along with Bowie’s greatest hits and groovy special effects, TTC created an out-of-this-world video compilation.

The fourth video really sky rocketed the event to the next level. We transformed the Mellon’s blank canvas ceiling into a vibrant and twinkling starry night sky, with shooting stars, a moon, clouds, and even a rotating Mars!

The Impact

Reviewing video previews meant for a three dimensional surface can be hard to visualize, so the client wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But once they stepped into the room and witnessed the projections dressing the celling, walls, and columns, they were absolutely blown away with the results. All of the guests and stakeholders were ‘wowed’ by the whimsical David Bowie wonderland that the Mellon had become. Everyone was taking pictures and looking up in awe at the night sky about them. It was clear that we had set a new bar for their event: one that we plan to exceed in years to follow.