THE PRODUCERS’ ESSAYS

Why Masquerade?


The Quirky Power of Fantasy


By Dean Paton


Dressing up isn’t about becoming one of the elite. Or being better than. Or even about high fashion. I loathe the concept of fashion. Couture is a con to get your money, and in order to dip into your wallet it must get you thinking you’re somehow special—because of course you were clever enough to pay seven times what that Made-in-Macau shirt is actually worth?


No, putting on my secondhand swallowtail tuxedo is a doorway, a portal into possibility. Which is what fantasy, put to its best use, becomes.


Fantasy. Comes from fantastic. Which can either mean “amazing” or “implausible.” And at that point, it forces us to choose: We can go with the amazing and create something that breathes passion into us. Or we can get lost in impossibility, a sad purgatory for daydreamers.


Ten years ago I had a fantasy: I’d create an orchestra that would win the hearts of good dancers and other romantics. I pictured us playing the dreamy Century Ballroom to a sell-out crowd. Attendance was limited. Glorious dancers paid $35 for a ticket and whirled about the grand old hall wearing resplendent masks.


Truly, it was all quite implausible. Yet I chose to overlook the fact that I hadn’t played my clarinet in a decade, and that I knew zero about running a musical enterprise. I had this dream, and I fueled it with pure fantasy.


If someone like me can turn such an implausible whim into a splendid dance ensemble that performs regularly in the town’s best ballroom, then practically everybody can use the quirky power of fantasy to turn their own dreams into whatever new reality they wish for themselves.


And that’s really what the Century Ballroom Masquerade Waltz offers. It’s not an evening for the snooty. Or the timid. It’s a theatrical—even a political—act. Go for it.


At the ballroom’s entrance there will be a curtain. Once you part that scrim, you’ll enter a world of sweet deception and fresh-start possibility. From that moment onward, anything you want is within your reach. If you choose. Want to change the world? Or a bad habit that irks you? Start small, with a waltz. Start with Masquerade.






Why we do, what we do.

And why we want you to do it with us.


By Susan Balshor


Ah. The masquerade. Costumes. Disguises. Fantasy and make-believe. I see these as tools for exploring the parts of self that life and circumstances pressure us to ignore.


I experience it as playful freedom from old patterns and stale comfort zones. When I dress up as one of my less known selves, I feel more myself. More whole and round and available for what life offers. Less hidden, thus, more me.


Valse Cafe Orchestra has been in existence for ten years. The original members waxed poetic around the kitchen table as well as the music room. We spoke often of fantasy and theatre. We wanted our music to help transport others: out of their seats and into the movie. We saw it as art and were willing to work long hours for little or no financial compensation. Creating an event such as the Masquerade Waltz takes enormous energy and personal commitment. We think it all worthwhile if we help you spend a piece of time transported to a place that can open your senses and heart to a generous portion of life.


Every time we dress, up or down or just for work: we are clothing a part of our personality. Some costumes may fit better, the inside fit. Others may be false fronts (and possibly necessary ones). But sometimes we can just be ourselves. Whatever these guises consist of, there are still parts that we seldom dress, and I invite the guests of the Masquerade  Waltz to dress up as a part of the seldom seen “you.” The vamp, the princess, a favorite actor or muse. The baron, the bar maid, Errol Flynn or Evita. Wear what will let the part of you, y o u admire, adore, love secretly...get dressed up and see who dances with that “you.”


The Mask? That’s to help us ease into the exchange. Give one another a bit of anonymity and perhaps courage. Dance for a while with the secret part of another.


And. I wish to be clear. This is not a Halloween event. This is an invitation to elegantly and glamorously dress for playing a role in the movie of your life. We will provide the setting and theatrical resources. And you, each of you, will be the grand actors.